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"Our enemy is hiding behind civilians": Ukraine Interior Minister

Monday, May 05, 2014 - 01:46

May 5 - Ukraine's Interior Minister on a military operation with soldiers in the east says separatists are hiding behind civilians. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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The Ukrainian helicopter prepares to take off in the East of the country -- where the government is struggling to dislodge pro-Russian separatists. Earlier another military helicopter was shot down near the pro-Russian rebel-controlled town of Slaviansk -- but the pilots survived. Now, in a show of support, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is on the frontline saying separatists are hiding behind civilians. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) ARSEN AVAKOV, INTERIOR MINISTER, SAYING: "There is a war going on against us on our territory. Our hands and knees are tied because of the civilian population around us. Some support us, others don't. Some support the Russian language, others don't. None of that matters. Ukrainian soldiers cannot shoot at civilians. This is our limitation and our enemy is making full use of it. Our enemy is hiding behind civilians and shooting at us." Slaviansk has come under heavy fighting. A roadside snack shop is caught on the crossfire. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) IRINA, KIOSK VENDOR, SAYING: "Everything was hit. A lot has been destroyed. Bullets went through the fridges, windows. There were six bullets in the big coffee-maker. The small one was smashed." Russia's foreign ministry is calling on Kiev to "stop the bloodshed, withdraw forces and finally sit down at the negotiating table". Russia denies charges that it is seeking to undermine Ukraine and is using special forces to lead the insurgency, as it did before annexing Crimea in March.

"Our enemy is hiding behind civilians": Ukraine Interior Minister

Monday, May 05, 2014 - 01:46

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