Rebels Kill 19 Ukrainian Troops in Rocket Attack: Poroshenko Vows Revenge
July 13, 2014 • 9:57AM

Rebel forces in eastern Ukraine attacked Ukrainian troops in Zelenopolye, Luhansk Region near the Russian border, early Friday, killing 19 troops and four members of the border guard force. The attack came after Ukrainian security officials had promised to inflict a "nasty surprise" on the rebels, but they ended up getting one themselves. Ukrainian Army troops and battalions of the Right Sector-dominated National Guard are stretched out on an extended line along the Russian-Ukrainian border in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in a strip between militia-held territory and the border. The strip is, in places, only 8 km wide and the militias are operating from high ground on its northern side. Zelenopolye, where the Grad rocket attack took place, is toward the eastern, most extended end of that strip.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed Nazi-like revenge against the rebels for the attack. "For every soldier's life, the militants will pay with scores and hundreds of their own. Not a single terrorist will avoid responsibility; each will get what they deserve," he said. According to the regime, 93 others were wounded in the attack. Elsewhere in Luhansk Region, four other Ukrainian troops were killed when their armored vehicle hit a mine.

Of related significance, since much of the current fighting is in close proximity to the Russian border, is a new statement issued Saturday by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Citing overnight incidents in which Russian border posts were again shelled from Ukrainian territory and "from positions set up on Russian territory after penetration of the border by attackers from Ukraine," the Foreign Ministry stated: "The Russian side once again strongly protests and demands a stop to the shelling of Russian territory and violations of the border of the Russian Federation. If such provocations continue, the Russian side reserves the right to take all measures provided for under the laws of the Russian Federation to defend its territory and ensure the safety of Russian citizens."