WASHINGTON — Four Ukrainian policemen were ambushed by pro-Russian militiamen and rebels in the eastern city of Slaviansk, which is the stronghold of anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian rebels.
Reuters reported that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry announced the death toll, which involved a retreating force of rebels via armored personnel carriers. The rebel death toll could not be confirmed.
The eastern town has been under occupation by the rebels and normally is the home to about 118,000 people.
The Interior Ministry mentioned that the rebels had “heavy weapons” and were able to surprise the patrolling policemen. The Ukrainian government have labeled these rebels as “terrorists,” while the rebels have called the government “fascists” for not letting the Russian-speaking people split from the Ukrainian government operating out of the capital city of Kiev.
The conflict began after pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich fled the country, after months-long protests finally sapped him of domestic and international support. The country’s parliament voted him out, and some have accused him of crimes against protesters such as deploying snipers to kill protesters. Russia summarily invaded the southern province of Crimea, seizing Ukrainian military bases and personnel and eventually annexed the Black Sea port region.
The U.S. and European Union could only sanction Putin’s allies due to Europe’s reliance on Russian gas and oil.