* Graphic on region link.reuters.com/cux42w
KIEV Aug 4 Five government soldiers were killed
and 15 wounded over the last 24 hours in fighting in eastern
Ukraine where Kiev forces recaptured an important railway hub
from pro-Russian rebels, a security official in Kiev said on
Kiev has intensified its campaign against the Moscow-backed
separatists and made steady gains on the ground since a
Malaysian airliner was downed over rebel-held territory on July
17, killing all 298 people on board.
Government troops have now all but encircled the rebels'
second-largest stronghold of Luhansk and rebels declared a
"state of siege" in Donetsk, the largest city they hold.
"Units taking part in the anti-terrorist operation yesterday
took the town of Yasynuvata, which is an important hub of the
region's railway system," Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Kiev's
military operation in the east, told a briefing.
Separatists seized the Yasynuvata railway control centre in
May as their rebellion spilled over eastern Ukraine. It sits
just north of Donetsk nearby a main road leading to Luhansk.
Fighting left Luhansk without electricity or running water
and mobile network was also down, local officials said on
Lysenko also said a group of Ukrainian soldiers and border
guards, who have been blocked between the Russian border to the
east and pro-Russian rebel position in the west for more than
three weeks, crossed into Russia in the early hours on Monday.
"Today at 4:30 a planned operation took place to unblock a
Ukrainian military unit nearby Chervonopartyzansk. A large part
(of the unit) successfully ... reached a safe place," Lysenko
"Part of the soldiers (group) went into the Russian
territory," he said, adding Kiev was now trying to negotiate
their return. He refused to say how many servicemen had crossed
the border but the wife of one of them, speaking on Ukraine's
112 TV channel, put the number at around 200.
The OSCE, which is fascilitating the work of international
experts on the Malaysian Boeing crash site, said on Twitter more
than a hundred experts reached the area with detector dogs on
Monday but were not starting recovery and investigative work.
"(They) are remaining stationary pending further security
assessments," the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
A large group of international experts has worked on the
site since Friday after fighting in the area had stalled efforts
to reach the site for several days before that.
(Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Pavel Polityuk, Writing by
Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Richard Balmforth/Jeremy Gaunt)