The Ukrainian army started a full-scale punitive military operation in the town of Slavyansk, the Donetsk region. The Kiev authorities used helicopters and airborne troops against civilians.
Units of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, the National Guards and Armed Forces are taking part in the special operation in Slavyansk.
"The Ukrainian authorities used helicopters and airborne troops against civilians. Armoured vehicles cover the offensive of airborne troops. Combat helicopters of Ukrainian Air Force are hovering in the sky above Slavyansk. The town is completely blocked," a representative of the People's Militia of Slavyansk said from a checkpoint in the town center.
Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stated that the local militiamen respond to the troops, using automatic fire and heavy weapons, including grenade launchers and MANPADS. A pilot has been killed; several people have been wounded. According to the minister, Ukrainian law enforcers managed to capture nine checkpoints in Slavyansk; the town has been surrounded.
Representatives of Slavyansk defenders said that they downed three Ukrainian helicopters during the battles.
Kiev officials say that railway communication near the town of Slavyansk will be blocked in the next hour. At about 11:30 a.m., the punitive operation against the civil population of the town has been suspended. Most likely, the Ukrainian army took a break to regroup their forces.
Self-defense forces managed to shoot down three helicopters. According to them, one pilot was killed, another one was taken captive.
The head of the Security Bureau of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, commands the punitive operation in Slavyansk. As reported from the General Staff, Minister of Internal Affairs Avakov was dismissed due to the failure of the first stage.
In addition to military and intelligence agencies, Right Sector fighters participate in the assault against civilians. They are tasked to regain control of the town in the next day at any cost.
The local population build barricades and say they are ready to stand up as a human shield against armored vehicles.
In one of the districts of Slavyansk, they blocked a bridge over the river. Many residents took to the streets to defend the town.