Another Ukraine government helicopter was shot down on Monday, this is the fourth helicopter in recent weeks to succumb to the gunfire of the pro-Russian separatists in the Eastern region of the Ukraine. The shootdown took place during the latest clash between pro-Russian militants and Ukrainian government forces in the separatist controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk.
This newest fighting in eastern Ukraine comes one day after hundreds of pro-Russian militants stormed a police station in Odessa, freeing 70 protesters that had been arrested two days earlier in the deadly riot that killed 42 mostly pro-Russian activists. This deadly violence in Odessa is the worst that the country is seen since the new interim government in Kiev was installed.
Ukrainian security service says that six people had been killed and another 100 wounded, but Russia’s Interfax news agency reports that a source in Slovyansk reported that in excess of 20 pro-Russian fighters were killed in the clash.
The Ukraine government in Kiev states that it will stay on the offense against the eastern Ukraine separatists and says it will extend its offensive operations into towns beyond Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. A new special forces unit has moved into the southern port of Odessa in response to the police failure that took place there on Sunday. Ukraine is concerned that this newest outbreak of violence in Odessa may signal that the unrest is now moving past the Eastern region of the country and expanding further west.
With as many as 40,000 troops massed at the border With Ukraine, Russia is poised to respond to the violence in the east of Ukraine, and has vowed to intervene if any Russian speaking Ukrainians are harmed. But, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov stated from Moscow that Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin has yet to make a determination as to how Russia will respond to the offensive or the reported deaths in Odessa.
The interim government in Kiev has scheduled a presidential election for May 25, that election may quell the violence taking place in the Eastern region of the Ukraine. But Kiev continues to accuse Moscow of trying to disrupt that scheduled vote that is now less than three weeks away.