Gun battles broke out in the center of the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk today, as military forces, backed with artillery fire, attacked rebel position in the capital of the rebel-held region.
There were reports of fights as well as car chased at several points in the capital throughout the day, and civilians fled their homes amid the intense shelling by Ukrainian forces.
The Ukrainian military has promised to crush the rebellion in what it is calling a “anti-terrorist” operation, and seems to be nearing a victory, surrounding the last few rebel strongholds and shelling the areas for days before finally pushing in.
Ukrainian officials are planning a meeting with Russian officials next week in Minsk, and Russia is expected to push heavily for an end to the civil war and a negotiated settlement with the mostly ethnic Russian rebels.
Russia has been pushing for a settlement for months now, complaining of the growing humanitarian crisis, which has displaced over a million civilians, many of them fleeing into Russia to escape the offensive.
The US has opposed negotiated settlements in the past, demanding the rebels surrender to the pro-West Ukrainian government before any negotiations are even considered.