KIEV, August 30 (RIA Novosti) - The commander of Ukrainian Donbass forces announced the opening of a safety corridor, through which Ukrainian servicemen can leave the encirclement outside the town of Ilovaisk in the Donetsk region.
"By 10:00 today [7:00 GMT] all soldiers, who did not surrender, will be let out with their weapons and color through a special corridor to the site of the forces' main base," Semen Semenchenko wrote on his Facebook page early Saturday.
He said the corridor was set up after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's talk at "the highest level."
The militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) announced Thursday they had encircled Kiev’s forces outside Ilovaisk, 22 miles from Donetsk, and captured the checkpoints and strongholds of Ukrainian special forces in the outskirts of the southern town of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov.
On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin called on the independence forces 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.”
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko said, however, Ilovaisk remained under the control of the Ukrainian forces, which had been reinforced on Wednesday.
In mid-April, Kiev launched a military operation against independence supporters in the southeast of Ukraine after they refused to recognize the legitimacy of a coup-imposed government.
According to the United Nations, more than 2,000 people have died as a result of the confrontation, and more than 4,950 people have sustained injuries in the fighting.