DONETSK, August 26. /ITAR-TASS/. East Ukraine self-defense fighters are battling with the pro-Kiev troops for control of the town of Ilovaisk and the settlements of Yelenovka (Olenovka) and Yasinovataya, the local news agency Novorossiya reported on Tuesday.
Commander of the pro-Kiev Donbass battalion Semyon Semenchenko said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian military had been encircled by the militias in the area of Ilovaisk near Donetsk.
“As a result of three strikes, the settlements of Starobeshevo and Kuteinikovo have been blocked. Ultimately, another group of the Ukrainian armed forces retreated and the entire grouping became encircled,” Semenchenko wrote in his Facebook page.
The Ukrainian troops trapped in Ilovaisk include “units of the National Guard’s Donbass battalion, the Interior Ministry’s Dnepr, Kherson, Svityaz and Mirotvorets battalions, and also a composite company of the 93rd and 17th brigades of the Ukrainian armed forces,” Semenchenko said.
The Ukrainian army earlier announced it had gained control of Ilovaisk.
Fighting for Yelenovka (Olenovka) resumed on Tuesday morning. The militias gained control of this populated area on Monday but were eventually forced to leave it as they had no reinforcements to continue their offensive.
The militia headquarters earlier reported that the Donetsk People’s Republic, which had formed united armed forces, launched a counteroffensive on August 24 and 25, encircling three large groupings of Ukrainian troops.
The Donetsk self-defense fighters blocked over 7,000 Ukrainian troops and over 400 pieces of the armor, the militia headquarters said.
The pro-Kiev grouping trapped in the cauldron also included over 40 tanks, about 100 infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carriers and airborne combat vehicles and about 50 Grad and Uragan multiple launch rocket systems, the militia headquarters said.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said on Tuesday that militias had intensified fighting in the eastern and southern fronts in the Donetsk Region.
Active combat operations are also taking place in the suburbs of Donetsk, Luhansk and Ilovaisk. The Ukrainian troops “are taking efforts to block all roads and approaches to Donetsk and Horlivka to establish their full blockade. The fiercest battles are taking place in the area of Ilovaisk and Khryashchevatoye,” Lysenko said.
“Now the Ukrainian troops have secured defensive positions near Novoazovsk,” the National Security and Defense Council spokesman said.
According to Lysenko, the Ukrainian artillery and aviation have destroyed the militia’s 2 tanks, 8 combat armored vehicles, 2 Grad multiple launch rocket systems, 2 vehicles and one cannon, and also 12 airborne combat vehicles near Azovsk in the past 24 hours, and have also killed over 200 fighters.
Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.
During the military operation, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.