MOSCOW, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - The first group of Ukrainian servicemen besieged by self-defense forces outside the town of Ilovaisk, located 22 miles away from Donetsk, has left the encirclement, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page Saturday.
Avakov said 28 servicemen from the Interior Ministry battalions “Mirotvorets,” “Kherson,” “Dniepr-1,” headed toward the National Guard’s stronghold.
On Thursday, self-defense forces of southeastern Ukraine announced that they surrounded Kiev’s forces outside the small town of Ilovaisk, and captured the checkpoints and strongholds of Ukrainian special forces in the outskirts of the southern town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the militia to open a humanitarian corridor "in order to avoid pointless casualties, and to give them an opportunity to freely leave the area of military action, reunite with their families, to return them to mothers, wives and children, to provide medical help to the wounded as a result of the military operation."
The prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic Alexander Zakharchenko said Friday that the republic’s militia would set up a humanitarian corridor for the besieged Ukrainian forces provided they give up their weapons.
Early on Saturday the commander of Ukrainian Donbass forces Semen Semenchenko announced the opening of a safety corridor, through which Ukrainian servicemen can leave the encirclement outside the town of Ilovaisk in the Donetsk region.
Ukraine’s southeastern regions never recognized the legitimacy of the new authorities that took over the country after the February 22 regime change. The regions protested the new government and held referendums on self-determination, voting to separate from Ukraine. In return, Kiev launched a military operation to crack down on independence supporters.
Moscow continues to insist on an immediate end to the “punitive operation” in eastern Ukraine, which claimed the lives of 2,220 people and injured about 6,000 between mid-April and August 17, according to the UN report published Friday.