Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rebels flee to eastern Ukraine, prepare for final stand

KIEV, Ukraine — Separatist rebels retreated Monday from positions throughout eastern Ukraine, apparently blowing up bridges as they went, and began building barricades in the two largest cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in anticipation of a final stand against advancing government troops.

Ukrainian officials said they had succeeded in sealing the previously porous border with Russia, stopping the influx of new weapons and fighters and prompting bitter complaints from separatist leaders about being sold out by their patrons in Moscow.

The action Monday came after a series of surprising successes by Ukraine's underequipped and underfunded military, which in recent days has driven the rebels from some strongholds that were seized early in the three-month rebellion. It has accomplished this without encountering strong resistance or prompting a reaction from Moscow.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called off a cease-fire last week and vowed to defeat the rebels on the battlefield. But that has raised the prospect of protracted and bloody urban warfare with significant civilian casualties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who warned last week he would not stand by while the safety of Russians was endangered, did not comment on the deteriorating situation. That was left to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who complained about damage to civilian areas but mentioned nothing about possible military action. The Kremlin appears to have taken that option off the table, in favor of a negotiated settlement that might install close allies of Russia as the governors of Donetsk and Luhansk.

"It is in our common interest to stop the bloodshed as soon as possible," Lavrov said at a news conference in Sofia, Bulgaria. "Our position is that there can be no reason whatsoever to postpone the cease-fire. The fighting is inflicting great suffering on the civilian population, as a result of which the outflow of refugees is increasing and civilian infrastructure is being destroyed."

In an apparent bid to slow the oncoming troops, the pro-Russian insurgents blew up two bridges on the road to Donetsk from Slovyansk and Kramatorsk, two long-occupied provincial cities where rebels were ousted over the weekend after a fierce bombardment.

Underequipped Ukrainian troops have forced pro-Russian separatists to flee east. The retreating rebels have blown up bridges and are creating barricades in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Associated Press

Underequipped Ukrainian troops have forced pro-Russian separatists to flee east. The retreating rebels have blown up bridges and are creating barricades in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Rebels flee to eastern Ukraine, prepare for final stand 07/07/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 12:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mayor: Men stabbed after anti-Muslin rant died as 'heroes' (w/video)


    PORTLAND, Ore. — Police said Saturday they'll examine what appears to be the extremist ideology of an Oregon man accused of fatally stabbing two men who tried to intervene when the suspect yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim on a Portland light-rail train.

    A sign of thanks rests against a traffic light pole at a memorial outside the transit center on Saturday in Portland, Ore. [Associated Press]
  2. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Wing Jonathan Drouin could be the only piece that Tampa Bay has to acquire a badly needed top-tier defenseman.
  4. Ryan Hunter-Reay running strong as he seeks a second Indianapolis 500 title

    Auto racing

    Ryan Hunter-Reay isn't a big jewelry fan.

    Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won Indy in 2014, is a contender for a second title in today’s 101st running. He qualified 10th, had the third-fastest practice lap and his team is looking strong.
  5. As Trump's overseas trip ends, crisis grows at home (w/video)


    President Donald Trump headed home Saturday to confront a growing political and legal threat, as his top aides tried to contain the fallout from reports that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a focus of investigations into possible collusion between Russia and the president's campaign and transition teams.

    President Donald Trump waves as he exits Marine One on Saturday at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. After a nine-day trip overseas, the president is returning to Washington.