The Ukrainian army drew closer to Sloviansk and managed to seize three checkpoints surrounding the city. Five pro-Russians were killed and one wounded in the attack. Due to the attacks, Russia declared its troops on the east Ukraine border will engage in military exercises in case there is a need to protect Russian interests.
In this video, Ukrainian tanks can be seen moving through a checkpoint:
Sloviansk in Donetsk Oblast has been under the control of pro-Russian forces since April 12. Many journalists and politicians have been kidnapped in the city, and some are still missing. Volodymyr Rybek, a Ukrainian deputy, was kidnapped last Wednesday, and his body was found a week later with a sandbag tied around his waist and his stomach slashed open.
The situation is so severe that Ukrainian officials released a statement telling residents not to leave their homes. The Ukrainian army is planning on moving into the city, and the violence might get worse:
The statement requests that parents “do not let unattended children in the streets,” and encourages citizens “not to succumb to provocations and not to carry out the criminal orders of representatives of the self-proclaimed government.”
Ukrainian forces distributed leaflets to residents of Sloviansk encouraging them to remain peaceful.
The Ministry has reported on its website that the “self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk Ponomarev” announced that anyone seen with the leaflet will be “shot on the spot.”
The Interior Ministry also announced that 100 national guards surrounded the Mariupol city council:
The Interior Ministry’s press service reports that at about 3 a.m. on April 24, 20 people entered the city council building and demanded that the protesters vacate the premises immediately.
A clash then erupted between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters. Law enforcement officers soon arrived at the scene and were able to stop the conflict.
Interfax Ukraine is reporting that 5 people were injured in the violence
Currently, ten armed separatists are occupying the building.
On April 16, pro-Russian forces attempted to seize the Ukrainian army base in Mariupol but were chased away. At least one person was killed, and surrounding homes were left with bullet holes and other damage. The pro-Russians threw Molotov cocktails at the army base and shot guns into the air as they left.
Russia amassed over 40,000 troops on the border since early March. Moscow never did provide a reason that there was a need for the troops but said the troops only performed exercises to familiarize the soldiers with unknown land. However, after the army moved into Sloviansk and Mariupol, Russia declared new exercises for troops to prepare them in case Russia feels the need to protect Russians in Ukraine.
The Kyiv Post said citizen journalists in Novishakhtinsk, Russia, found troops moving to Ukraine’s border:
Citizen journalists purportedly located in Novoshakhtinsk, a Russian city 10 kilometers from Ukraine’s eastern border in Rostov Oblast, shot footage of Russian military mobilizing. Columns of armored personnel carriers, artillery weapons, tanks and trucks, presumably transporting Russian soldiers are seen driving in the city’s main highway.