Ukraine launches first major offensive against Pro-Russia

By: Matt McGovern Email
By: Matt McGovern Email
Fighting broke out around dawn near the city of Slovyansk, located about 100 miles from the Russian border.

The airport is under the control of Ukrainian forces.

KIEV, UKRAINE (NBC) - Ukraine launched its first major offensive against Pro-Russia separatists in the country's east Friday.

Fighting broke out around dawn near the city of Slovyansk, located about 100 miles from the Russian border.

The Russian government said the move "destroyed" hopes for peace in the region.

Pro-Russia forces shot down two Ukrainian helicopters, and two crew members were killed.

A Russian state TV channel broadcast video purportedly showing a person identified by Pro-Russian separatists as one of the helicopters' pilots being helped in Slovyansk.

It also showed video of Pro-Russia militia in Slovyansk.

The Ukrainian security service said one of the helicopters was hit by a surface-to-surface missile, and its forces were fighting "highly skilled foreign military men" in Slovyansk.

Meanwhile, people in a village in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region were seen trying to block Ukrainian troops landing helicopters and moving heavy equipment.

Armed Pro-Russia separatists manned checkpoints on roads leading to the airport in Kramatorsk.

The airport is under the control of Ukrainian forces.

Meanwhile, many residents of Ukraine's capital Friday expressed their support for the government's offensive in the country's east.


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