Ukraine took over Slaviansk from pro-Russians and now there are fights between the rebels as they continue a downward spiral in the east. One man in a battalion told the Associated Press he would not listen to the leader of one of the rebel groups.
Vostok commander Alexander Khodakovsky also said he would not abandon the rebel-held city of Donetsk even if ordered to do so. No such order has been issued, but rebel troops did flee from their stronghold in Slovyansk last weekend.
In another sign of deteriorating morale among rebels, several dozen militia fighters in Donetsk abandoned their weapons and fatigues Thursday, telling their superiors they were returning home.
“Russia abandoned us. The leadership is bickering. They promise money but don’t pay it. What’s the point of fighting?” said 29-year old Oleg.
Russian citizen Alexander Boroday, the leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said there is no infighting within the group.
“These are lies and disinformation. There are no disagreements. We are now organizing our joint work,” Alexander Boroday said.
On July 5, the Ukrainian army recaptured Slaviansk from the pro-Russian forces. The army raised the Ukraine flag over the administrative building. President Petro Poroshenko gained confidence in the anti-terrorist operation in the east. After the city fell, one resident said she was disgusted with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Pass on these words to Putin: the people of the Donbass believed him for some reason when he said he would help,” said Alla Belousova. “But now they (government forces) are killing peaceful civilians and if that is not genocide I would like to know what is. The (rebel) fighters are without shoes and don’t have anything to fight with.”