Videos

‘Spider-man’ from #Kyiv confesses to putting up #Ukrainian #flag in #Moscow


By Olga Rudenko.Ukrainian extreme adventurist Grygoriy takes a selfie as he apears to stand on a top of a building in Moscow, purportedly on Aug. 20, when a Ukrainian flag was placed on top, triggering a scandal amid Russia's war against Ukraine. © www.facebook.com/mustang.wanted.25Ukrainian extreme adventurist Grygoriy takes a selfie as he appears to stand on a top of a building in Moscow, purportedly on Aug. 20, when a Ukrainian flag was placed on top, triggering a scandal amid Russia’s war against Ukraine. © www.facebook.com/mustang.wanted.25

Ukrainian extreme adventurer and risk-taker Grygoriy, who goes under pseudonym Mustang Wanted, is claiming that he put the Ukrainian flag on top of a building in Moscow on Aug. 20. He also gave a yellow star on top of the building a coat of blue paint as a finishing touch of Ukrainian colors.

Grygoriy, 26, says it was “a sincere patriotic feeling” that made him do it.

Read Grygoriy’s profile by Kyiv Post from June 2013.

In a statement he put on his Facebook page, Grygoriy, who never shares his last name, says he decided to come clean for the sake of the four Russians who were detained on suspicion of putting up the flag.

“I have to make this confession in attempt to free the innocent citizens of Russia who have all the chances to become victims of Russian justice, widely known for its impartiality,” reads the post on Mustang Wanted page on Facebook.

At 7 a.m. on Aug. 20, a Ukrainian flag was spotted on a top of the apartment building known as Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, a trademark Stalinist skyscraper. Half of a yellow Soviet star under the flag was painted blue to resemble the colors of the flag.

The flag was removed three hours later, and the star was repainted the same day. Later in the day, four young Russians, two men and two women were detained as suspects. The judge qualified the case as hooliganism, punished by up to seven years of prison.

The suspects were seen making parachute jumps from the building that morning, but claimed it was a coincidence and said they never saw who put up the flag.

In his confession post, Grygoriy writes he spent most of the night painting the star and installing the flag, and was done by 6 a.m.

“I never saw the detained Russians there and I must say I don’t even know them,” he writes.

Grygoriy is known for his passion for climbing high buildings. He is often photographed hanging from 100-meter high buildings on one hand and making other stunts.

After confessing, he wrote that he agrees to put himself in the hands of Russian justice in exchange of Nadezhda Savchenko’s liberation. Savchenko, a Ukrainian military pilot, was taken captive by Russia-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east in June and has been kept in prison in Russian city of Voronezh ever since.

(Kyiv Post editor Olga Rudenko can be reached at rudenko@kyivpost.com).


Kyiv Post.

#Swansea Bay: Manmade #Tidal #lagoon could #power 155,000 homes


Tidal LagoonTidal Lagoon.

A manmade lagoon in Swansea Bay could power more than 155,000 homes using tidal power, if plans go ahead.

Swansea Bay has a tidal range of up to 10.5 metres in height. This means there’s a 10.5-metre difference between high tide and low tide — the second highest tidal range in the world. A manmade tidal lagoon can harvest energy form the ebb and flow of this tide.

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay.

The tidal lagoon concept is based around a standard sand-core breakwater, similar to many seen in harbour walls or coastal defence systems. In the case of Swansea Bay, it would involve building a 9.5-kilometre wall. This is embedded with hydro turbines that have been used in river hydro power schemes already and in some tidal barrages. The turbines are mounted inside concrete housings and are permanently submerged — to the onlooker it would appear to be a ring-shaped harbour wall with one section of concrete casing.

As the sea outside the breakwater rises, it is held back and a difference in water levels is created. Once this reaches a sufficient height, “sluice gates” are opened and water flows into the lagoon through the turbines to generate energy. This process than occurs in reverse when the tide ebbs away. This means that there are energy-generating opportunities four times per day.

Tidal Lagoon

This would be the world’s first man-made, energy-generating lagoon and it could, if we are to believe the developers, have an energy production capacity of 320 MW and generate 90 percent of Swansea Bay’s annual domestic electricity use for 120 years. The group says that it would also bring investment to South Wales to the value of around £500 million and jobs for 1,900 people.

The devleopers hope that the lagoon could help the UK hit its commitments to delivering 15 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 — currently just five percent of power is renewably sourced.

Tidal Lagoon

A planning decision is expected to be made on the lagoon in early 2015. If it gets the go ahead, it would be build and connected to the grid by 2018.


Wired UK.

#UK: How #Brighton #Pavilion became a temporary hospital for #Indian #soldiers in #WW1


During the First World War, Brighton Pavilion was turned into a makeshift, if palatial, hospital for Indian servicemen wounded while fighting for British forces.

By Hardeep Singh.Injured Indian soldiers in a makeshift ward in the King’s Music Room at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Photo: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & HoveInjured Indian soldiers in a makeshift ward in the King’s Music Room at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Photo: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

This summer a remote spot in the picturesque Sussex Downs attracted 500 visitors, who gathered at the Chattri Memorial in remembrance of the Indian soldiers who served on the Western Front during the Great War. Among the dignitaries, serviceman and civilians two men were being interviewed by a camera crew. ‘I know you’ve told this story many times before, but what exactly happened to your grandfather?’ Beturbanned Jaimal Singh Johal is standing next to Ian Henderson, their extraordinary friendship forged by events that happened almost a century ago at the battle of Neuve Chapelle, when Johal’s grandfather, Manta Singh of the 15th Ludhiana Sikhs, saw an English comrade, Capt George Henderson (Ian’s grandfather), lying injured on the battlefield. As he was pushing Henderson out of harm’s way in a wheelbarrow, he was shot. Manta Singh was sent to Brighton to recuperate, but died of his injuries.

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion is an instantly recognisable architectural delight, its Indian-style minarets and oriental domes reminiscent of a maharaja’s palace. It was begun in 1787 as a seaside playground for the Prince of Wales (later George IV); less well known is that it was transformed into a military hospital for soldiers from the Imperial Indian Army. The Indian subcontinent contributed 1.5 million men to the war effort – more than any other allied or German colony – and 4,300 Indians who had served on the Western Front were treated in Brighton. Brighton’s role as a restorative place for injured sepoys will be commemorated with a series of events for this year’s centenary.

In December 1914 hundreds of Indian casualties from the Western Front arrived on Britain’s shores. They made the journey from the Port of Southampton to Brighton, to be received by local dignitaries, entrusted by King George V to make provision for their rehabilitation. The Pavilion, the Kitchener Indian Hospital (now Brighton General), the York Place and Pelham Street Schools housed the men arriving from the battlefield.

At the opening ceremony of the pavilion’s Indian Gate in 1921 (a gift from India to the town) the Maharaja of Patiala, Bhupinder Singh, described ‘Brighton’s abounding hospitality’, coining the term ‘Dr Brighton’. The seaside air and sumptuous royal residence provided an environment tantamount to a healing balm. The maharaja, an honorary major-general, paid homage not to the sacrifice of the Indian soldiers, but to Brighton’s reputation as a place of healing, which was celebrated across India.

The pavilion became a 722-bed hospital. The King’s Music Room, dripping with elaborate lotus-shaped chandeliers and gilt-edged dragons, was transformed into a ward (as were the Ballroom and South Drawing Room). Magnificent carpets and curtains were removed and the floors lined with linoleum. The Dome became a makeshift operating theatre, dealing with gunshot and shrapnel wounds, and also ‘trench back’ – spinal injuries sustained in collapsed trenches. As a boost for morale, soldiers were allowed to believe that the moustached King-Emperor George V had vacated the royal palace specially for them. In fact Queen Victoria had sold it to Brighton Council in 1850 for the substantial sum of £53,000, but the myth helped to inculcate a sense of loyalty to King and country.

The Prince of Wales at the Chattri Memorial, 1921 PHOTO: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & HoveThe Prince of Wales at the Chattri Memorial, 1921 PHOTO: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove.

Great sensitivity was shown in allocating accommodation for the different castes and religions. The British had learnt that the viability of the Raj depended on the loyalty of the native army, and religious insensitivity had led to rebellion during the first Indian uprising of 1857. There were separate kitchens – Muslim soldiers had meat prepared in accordance with Islamic rites, whereas Hindus and Sikhs had a separate supply; beef, pork and bacon, while popular with the British, were prohibited from entering the grounds; extra plumbing was installed with separate taps labelled for Muslims and Hindus. Moreover, men of the same caste or religion cared for their kin, while ‘untouchables’, employed as support staff, were segregated, to placate India’s Hindu majority. Gas-fired ovens were provided for Indian cooks, who made dal and chapattis with ingredients bought both locally and from overseas.

‘They take great care of us here such as no one else would take, except a man’s mother, not even his wife,’ Bir Singh, a Sikh (55th Rifles), wrote. When George V visited in 1915 he paid his respects to Brighton’s first and last gurdwara, a makeshift tent in the pavilion grounds housing the Sikh scriptures.

Isar Singh (Sikh, 59th Rifles), a patient in the Royal Pavilion, wrote to a friend in a letter dated May 1 1915, ‘Do not be anxious about me. We are very well looked after. White soldiers are always beside our beds day and night. We get very good food four times a day. We also get milk. Our hospital is in the place where the King used to have his throne. Every man is washed once in hot water. The King has given a strict order that no trouble be given to any black man [Indian] in hospital. Men in hospital are tended like flowers, and the King and Queen sometimes come to visit them.’

Jemadar Mir Dast, a Pashtun (57th Wilde’s Rifles), who had been gassed in Ypres, appears in a short black-and-white film in the Pavilion Museum receiving a Victoria Cross from the King for rescuing comrades under fire. In a letter Dast candidly wrote, ‘The Victoria Cross is a very fine thing, but this gas gives me no rest. It has done for me.’

The wartime propaganda value of Dr Brighton was harnessed through poignant photography. Images of convalescent soldiers were printed and nearly 120,000 sold as postcards. They were placed in a commemorative booklet, Royal Pavilion Brighton: A Description of it as a Military Hospital for Indian Soldiers, written in Gurmukhi, Urdu and English and distributed widely in India. Prior to their admission to the pavilion military hospital, many of the soldiers had never set foot in Britain. They valued the currency of izzat, or honour in the battlefield, and some, like the Sikhs, had a long-standing military camaraderie with the British.

The Chattri Memorial was built in 1921 in memory of the Indian soldiers who died in Brighton. The Chattri, which translates as ‘umbrella’ in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu, was designed by EC Henriques in Bombay, and erected near Patcham, at the exact location where 53 Sikh and Hindu soldiers were cremated, before their ashes were scattered in the sea. Unveiled on February 21 1921 by the Prince of Wales, for many the Chattri is spiritual space, a heritage site, even a place of pilgrimage.

(from left) Lord Kitchener, Jemadar Mir Dast and Sir Walter Lawrence, the commissioner of Indian Military Hospitals, at the Royal Pavilion, 1915 PHOTO: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove(from left) Lord Kitchener, Jemadar Mir Dast and Sir Walter Lawrence, the commissioner of Indian Military Hospitals, at the Royal Pavilion, 1915 PHOTO: Courtesy of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

Davinder Dhillon, a retired Sikh teacher, has coordinated the annual Chattri Memorial service since 2000, when he took over from the Royal British Legion as a volunteer, having responded to an article in a newspaper. He describes the memorial as ‘a living thing and a reminder of the Indian contribution and sacrifices’. Representatives from the Undivided Indian Ex-Servicemen Association, the mayor, members of the armed services, city councillors and local people come together each June to remember the fallen. Turnout under his patronage has increased from 50 to 500.

Jody East, the creative programme curator at the pavilion, recently went to India as part of a British Council programme. She is collaborating with organisations there in an attempt to discover more about the Indian soldiers in Brighton. ‘At the time newspapers really believed the military hospital in the Royal Pavilion would always be remembered,’ she says. ‘Scarcely 10 years later, by 1930, it was already fading into distant memory. The Royal Pavilion has been fully restored over the past few decades, and until recently the First World War did not feature in any of the visitor guides. But in 2010 we opened the permanent gallery, and people are fascinated by the idea of a Regency palace being turned into a military hospital for Indian soldiers.’

Bert Williams of the Brighton and Hove Black History Project, a member of the Chattri Memorial Group, told me how an elderly, wheelchair-bound woman from Leicester contacted him. ‘It was her desire to visit the memorial before she died,’ he said. It was of profound spiritual significance for her.

But the last word should go to a Hindu soldier, Subedar-Major Sardar Bahadur Gugan (6th Jats), who in 1915 wrote in a letter to a friend in India, ‘Everything is such as one would not see even in a dream. One should regard it as fairyland. The heart cannot be satiated with seeing the sights, for there is no other place like this in the world. It is as if one were in the next world… I have never been so happy in my life as I am here.’

The Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove First World War resourses can be viewed online at: http://www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk/HistoryAndCollections/Pages/FirstWorldWarResources.aspx

For more stories from the Saturday Telegraph magazine visit telegraph.co.uk/magazine

The Telegraph.

Rebel leader says 1,200 #Russian #fighters, #weapons en route to eastern #Ukraine


By Christopher J. MillerThe newly appointed leader of Ukraine's self-proclaimed The newly appointed leader of Ukraine’s self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” Alexander Zakharchenko speaks at a press conference in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, on Aug. 7, 2014. © AFP

SNIZHNE, Ukraine – The rebel leader in Donetsk has said a column of military hardware is on its way to eastern Ukraine from Russia. Meanwhile, his fighters appeared to bolster their positions on the front lines, where they are fighting pitched battles with government forces in a desperate attempt to hold onto their ever-shrinking territory.

Alexander Zakharchenko, the newly appointed prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said during a meeting with separatist leaders that a column of military vehicles with weapons and personnel was advancing toward the Ukrainian frontier from Russia.

“I’d like to give you some good news,” Zakharchenko told his comrades in an address on Aug. 15 that was published on YouTube. “At present, moving towards the corridor [from Russia to Ukraine that is controlled by the rebels] are… 150 items of military hardware, 30 of which are tanks and the rest are infantry fighting vehicles and armored personnel carriers.”

Joining the military column are 1,200 personnel who had received four months’ training in Russia, he added.


Alexander Zakharchenko, Donetsk People’s Republic leader, says 1,200 military personnel who had received four months’ training in Russia are en route to eastern Ukraine to join the separatist fight.

Russia has vehemently denied over the course of the months-long conflict repeated claims by Ukraine and the West that it has provided military aid to separatists in eastern Ukraine.

But two British journalists on Aug. 14 observed a convoy of 23 military vehicles passing from the Russian town of Donetsk into Ukraine’s Luhansk Oblast near the Izvarino border crossing.

It was the first time journalists have witnessed such vehicles moving across the border. Observers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported at least twice in recent weeks that they have seen “men in military dress” traveling freely from one side of the border to the other and back.

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said evidence showed what he called a “Russian incursion” into Ukraine had occurred late on Aug. 14.

“Last night we saw a Russian incursion, a crossing of the Ukrainian border,” he told journalists then, following a meeting with the Danish defense minister. “It just confirms the fact that we are seeing a continuous flow of weapons and fighters from Russia into eastern Ukraine and it is a clear demonstration of continued Russian involvement in the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.”

Kyiv said the next morning that it had “eliminated” a “significant” part of the convoy with artillery fire. Russia’s Defense Ministry denied the claim, brushing off the alleged incursion as “some kind of fantasy.”

Still, the report sparked a wave of criticism by Western nations.

“Any unilateral military actions on the part of the Russian Federation in Ukraine under any pretext, including humanitarian, will be considered by the European Union as a blatant violation of international law,” read a statement by EU foreign ministers on Aug. 15.

At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call to “put an end to the flow of military goods, military advisers and armed personnel over the border.”

A National Security and Defense Council map of the situation in Ukraine's embattled eastern regions on Aug. 16 shows a sliver of territory between Shakhtarsk and Torez to be controlled by government forces. However, a journey by a Kyiv Post journalist down the highway between the cities proved that Russian-backed rebels still controlled much of the area Kyiv reported to have reclaimed, including a vital highway.A National Security and Defense Council map of the situation in Ukraine’s embattled eastern regions on Aug. 16 shows a sliver of territory between Shakhtarsk and Torez to be controlled by government forces. However, a journey by a Kyiv Post journalist down the highway between the cities proved that Russian-backed rebels still controlled much of the area Kyiv reported to have reclaimed, including a vital highway.

In Donetsk, Zakharchenko also said that in past days the self-styled Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” have regained control over a strategically important road leading from Russia to Luhansk and Donetsk, which would allow for the Russian humanitarian convoy waiting on the border in Kamensk-Shakhtinksy to pass through without any hitches.

The road has also acted as an essential supply route for bringing military reinforcements to the regions from Russia, according to Kyiv and Western intelligence.

“The corridor between the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics exists now. Krasny Luch has been freed up completely, except for a small part in the outskirts, a small Ukrainian forces unit,” the rebel leader said. “Luhansk has been rescued by the LNR [Luhansk People's Republic] forces. Together with the Luhansk forces, we have taken over Sverdlovsk. We took over Musisnsk, we are holding Vahrushevo. So there is a direct road to Luhansk.”

Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council had said that it controlled the corridor, having cut off the rebels’ access to Luhansk Oblast from Donetsk between the cities of Shakhtarsk and Torez near where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was purportedly shot out of the sky. Kyiv and the West believe it was hit by a rocket from a Soviet-era Buk advanced surface-to-air missile system smuggled across the Russia-Ukraine border.

But a journey down the highway from Donetsk to Snizhne on Aug. 16 proved Kyiv’s report to be false. Several block posts along the route were manned by armed rebels, and while burned out armored vehicles, craters from shelling and bullet casings strewn about the road and surrounding fields indicated recent fights, there was no sign of Ukraine’s armed forces near the highway or within several kilometers of it.

The Kyiv Post could not confirm, though, that the highway was open past Snizhne, as rebel fighters turned vehicles back at the city.

Loud explosions, a heavy presence of fighters in the area as well as a steady flow of military hardware and personnel through Snizhne gave the impression that a battle was raging on other side of the city, near Krasnyi Luch, an important junction city that allows for passage to Luhansk and the Russian border.

Dozens of military trucks, nine tanks, five armored transporters and scores of fighters in SUVs were seen rushing east toward the area.

There were also reports of fighting elsewhere. Ukrainian media reported street fights had broken out in Luhansk between government forces and the rebels who have controlled the city since April. The provincial capital has been the scene of intense clashes in recent weeks. As a result, it has been without power and water for 14 days, according to the city council.

Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said in Kyiv that as the clashes raged an increasing number of rebel fighters were abandoning their posts in the besieged city of Luhansk and preparing to leave Donetsk to seek safe haven in Russia.

“A mood of panic is spreading and rebels are trying to leave through the small gaps that remain,” he said.

(Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller can be reached at miller@kyivpost.com and on Twitter at @ChristopherJM).


Kyiv Post.

Russian convoy to Ukraine abruptly changes course


Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) — A convoy of 280 of Russian trucks headed for Ukraine — which Moscow says is carrying relief goods for war-weary civilians — has suddenly changed its course, according to a Ukrainian state news agency.

With thousands of Russian troops still posted near the Ukrainian border and Ukraine’s military putting increasing pressure on pro-Russian fighters around the city of Donetsk, many in Ukraine and elsewhere fear that the so-called humanitarian mission is actually an attempt to smuggle supplies to pro-Russian rebels.

“Russia keeps inventing new excuses for their policy,” Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister, Danylo Lubkivsky, said Tuesday in Kiev. “In Georgia, it was defending pro-Russian minorities. In Ukraine’s Crimea, preventing NATO invasion.”

The trucks were expected to arrive at a checkpoint in Kharkiv on Wednesday but have bypassed that route, according to the website Ukrinform. It’s not clear what route the convoy will now take.

“In Donbas,” Lubkivsky said, referring to the war-torn eastern region of Ukraine that includes the contested cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, “they are trying to use the pretext of humanitarian aid and assistance.”

Without offering proof, Ukrainian officials have even accused Russia of repainting military vehicles white to disguise their efforts.

In Kiev, where many loyalties lie with the Ukrainian government, skepticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motive was rampant among residents.

“Normal people do not send guns to kill people and food for them to eat in the same cars,” said IT specialist Igor Vlasenko. “I think most Ukrainians want him to leave Ukraine alone. We can help ourselves.”

And it’s not just the Ukrainians raising concerns about a possible Russian Trojan horse.

Red Cross flummoxed

In an interview Monday with Reuters, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke of a “high probability” that Russia will invade Ukraine.

“We see the Russians developing the narrative and the pretext for such an operation under the guise of a humanitarian operation, and we see a military buildup that could be used to conduct such illegal military operations in Ukraine,” he said.

Russia has acknowledged sending the convoy. In a conversation Monday with the President of the European Commission, Putin said his country was working with the International Committee of the Red Cross to deliver aid to civilians suffering as a result of savage fighting there.

Except the Red Cross says it doesn’t know what Putin is talking about.

Spokesman Andrew Loersch said the agency doesn’t have any agreement with Russia on such a convoy.

And Red Cross European operations chief Laurent Corbaz said Tuesday in Geneva that the agency hasn’t gotten much clarity from Moscow about its purported role in the operation, including how the aid would be handed over and security guarantees for Red Cross workers.

“We said that we could be on board but that we needed to have some clarification first regarding modalities, practical steps that have to be implemented prior to a launch of such an operation,” he said.

Red Cross officials don’t even know what’s in the shipment, Corbaz said.

According to the Russian news agency Itar-Tass, the shipment is bound for Luhansk and contains 400 tons of grain, 100 tons of sugar, 62 tons of baby food, 54 tons of medical supplies, sleeping bags and “electrical power units.”

At the opening of a Ukraine Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that “Ukraine can receive humanitarian aid exclusively through the Red Cross and within international legal framework.”

‘False pretense’

But after an incident Saturday in which Ukrainian officials claim to have stopped a purported aid convoy accompanied by Russian troops, Ukraine has vowed to stop any “uncertified” aid convoy from Russia.

In the Saturday incident, Ukraine’s Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Valeriy Chaly told a Ukrainian television channel that the convoy was nothing more than a Russian provocation.

“Under a false pretense of agreement with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine, a humanitarian convoy of ‘peacekeepers’ was ready to enter the country, apparently in order to provoke a full-scale conflict,” he said.

U.S. officials have warned Russia against using aid as a means of wading deeper into the Ukraine conflict.

At a U.N. Security Council meeting Saturday, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia has no business delivering aid in Ukraine when international aid groups are better equipped to do the job.

“Therefore, any further unilateral intervention by Russia into Ukrainian territory — including one under the guise of providing humanitarian aid — would be completely unacceptable and deeply alarming,” she said. “And it would be viewed as an invasion of Ukraine.”

Secretary of State John Kerry made a similar point with his Russian counterpart on Saturday, according to the State Department.

While Western leaders have refused any suggestion that Russian acts could draw NATO nations into war over Ukraine, they do say it would lead to even stricter economic sanctions against Russia than those already imposed by the United States and the European Union.

So far, Russian officials have shrugged off the sanctions.

Rebels on the ropes?

Moscow’s decision to send the convoy comes as about 50,000 Ukrainian troops press forward with an offensive to rout rebel fighters from Donetsk.

They have put increasing pressure on the rebel fighters, and Ukrainian officials say they expect to be able to fully recapture the city by Ukraine’s Independence Day on August 24.

The ongoing fighting — sparked last year with a political crisis over whether Ukraine would seek closer ties with Europe or Russia — has left more than 2,000 people dead and just under 5,000 wounded in eastern Ukraine since mid-April, according to estimates from U.N. officials that they called “conservative.” The officials say the death toll has been on the rise in recent days, with reports of at least 41 killed and 143 wounded on Thursday alone.

Hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes and seek shelter either elsewhere in Ukraine or across the border in Russia, the United Nations says.

Michael Pearson reported and wrote from Atlanta; Lindsay Isaac reported from Kiev; CNN’s Jason Hanna, Will Ripley and journalist Victoria Butenko contributed to this report.


CNN.