Ukraine's armed forces pushed ahead with their operation against pro-Russian insurgents after 23 soldiers died in an attack on Friday, the biggest death toll since President Petro Poroshenko called off a cease-fire July 1.
"For every life of one of our soldiers, the militants will pay with dozens and hundreds of theirs," Poroshenko said in Kiev yesterday after the fighting near Ukraine's frontier with Russia, in which 93 soldiers were also wounded.
"Every single one will be held accountable and get their due."
We'll make them pay ... Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed "find and destroy" pro-Russian rebels who killed 23 servicemen in a missile attack. Photo: AP
Fighting continued overnight, with seven soldiers killed and 33 hurt in about 10 mortar and rocket attacks, according to the Facebook page of the government's operation against the separatists.
Both sides accused each other on Saturday of attacking the suburb of Maryinka in the eastern city of Donetsk, one of the insurgents' main strongholds.
As the violence escalated, the European Union added 11 names to a list of people it has sanctioned for supporting the insurrection in Ukraine, including leaders of the self-declared People's Republics in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. Among those hit by previous measures are members of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. Russia denies it's aiding the rebels.
The Interfax news service cited a separatist commander, Igor Girkin, as saying 30 civilians were killed when Ukrainian artillery shelled Maryinka in the west of Donetsk. A Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said in televised comments that insurgents fired Grad rockets at the suburb. Pictures showed holes blasted in walls of apartment blocks.
Air-defense units and fighter planes were on alert to counter the threat of more Grad rockets from the area of the Russian border, military spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said on Facebook.
The insurgents "suffered heavy losses" in fighting yesterday, Seleznyov said late last night, with the air force destroying two mortar batteries, two tanks and three armored personnel carriers. The army wiped out a rebel base at the Izvaryno border post in Luhansk region, he said.
Fighting was continuing today at Zelenopillya in the Luhansk region, near a point on the border where insurgents were attempting to bring in weapons from Russia, Lysenko was cited as saying by Interfax.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said today it protested to Russia about "outrageous" violations of the border. These included shooting at a border post overnight from the Rostov region in Russia and the use of Russian drones in Ukrainian airspace, it said in an e-mailed statement.
More than 39,000 people have left the area of fighting for other regions of Ukraine, including 14,000 children, the State Service for Emergency Situations said on its website today. The actual number will be higher, as many people have not been registered, it said.
The EU published the names today of the 11 new people it's sanctioning with asset freezes and travel bans over the insurgency. They include Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, and his equivalent in Luhansk, Marat Bashirov. The 28-nation bloc has already blacklisted 72 people and two companies connected with the destabilization of Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea in March.
The EU's first opportunity to consider wider penalties on Russian industry, investment or trade will be at a July 16 summit. Objections by countries such as Italy, Austria, Slovakia, France and Greece have frustrated moves toward broader sanctions, which require unanimity.