A top commander of the pro-Russia insurgency in eastern Ukraine said Saturday that Ukrainian forces have seized a key town, leaving the rebel region's largest city of Donetsk surrounded. The statement by Igor Girkin, a former Russian special service officer, appears to be a significant admission by the rebels that Ukrainian forces are gaining the upper hand in the four-month-old fight. Girkin, better known by his nom de guerre of Strelkov, said the town of Krasnyi Luch, which lies on one of the two main roads between Donetsk and the rebel-held east's other main city of Luhansk, "has been taken by the enemy." "The Donetsk-Horlivka group of the fighters of Novorossiya is completely surrounded," he said on a rebel social media page. Novosrossiya, or New Russia, is a term widely used for the rebel region.
In Ukraine's capital, Kiev, city workers and volunteers on Saturday removed the last of the barricades that had been blocking the main street since protests forced a change of government late last year. The barricades were protecting a sprawling tent camp.
- NATO Says Russia Has 20,000 Troops on Ukraine's Border
- Winging It: Putin Has No Master Plan for Ukraine Crisis, Officials Say