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The Battle for Donetsk International Airport: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 44)

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Published on May 28, 2014

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Only hours after Petro Poroshenko was announced the winner of Ukraine's presidential elections, the worst violence of the two month long crisis in eastern Ukraine exploded at Donetsk' Sergei Prokofiev airport.

Early Monday morning, gunmen of the Donetsk Peoples Republic arrived at the airport and took over the terminal building, prompting the Ukrainian military based there to issue an ultimatum to the rebels to lay down their weapons and leave. A massive firefight broke out which both fighter jets and attack helicopters were used by the Ukrainian military. The sound of gunfire and explosions filled the air as rebels and journalists ducked for cover along the access road to the airport terminal.

VICE News found a small unit of DPR gunmen among the trees along the access road who had pulled back from their earlier positions closer to the airport. Gunfire seemed to follow them as shots hit the wall on the other side of the road and one of their wounded fighters, who had been shot in the upper thigh was evacuated in a civilian car. The gunfire intensified and the unit was forced to withdraw.

The next morning gunfire could still be occasionally heard but the situation still remained unclear. Both sides claimed they controlled the airport, though it was clear that the Ukrainians had taken control and casualty figures were fluctuating, as more bodies were brought into the local morgues. At least 33 DPR gunmen had been killed in the assault, while the government was claiming 150 perished in the fight.

In Photos: The Deadly Aftermath of the Battle for Donetsk Airport: https://news.vice.com/article/in-phot...

Read more on vicenews.com:

Let Them Eat Cake or: The Battle for Donetsk International Airport: https://news.vice.com/article/let-the...

Fighting in Ukraine Escalates as Militia Groups Flock to Donetsk: https://news.vice.com/article/fightin...

Watch all of VICE News' coverage of the conflict in Ukraine here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

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