Thursday and Friday experienced the bloodiest and most gruesome violence in Ukraine since the violent protest in Kiev in late February that left over 100 dead.
On Thursday, pro-Russian separatists attacked and killed 14 Ukrainian soldiers in the Volnovakha.
Hundreds of pro-Russian gunmen attacked a Ukrainian military base near Rubizhne Thursday night as well, officials report.
Up to 20 separatists were killed, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.
Possibly the worst of the violence came on Friday, however.
According to reports, several members of the Donbass Battalion have been executed by pro-Russian separatists following a chaotic firefight between the two sides near Karlivka.
If the reports are true, this could very well lead to an even more sharp and deadly escalation of the crisis in Ukraine.
At about 06:00 local time, up to 200 pro-Russian gunmen ambushed Donbass Battalion soldiers who were approaching a checkpoint controlled by the separatists.
The separatists fired automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and sniper fire from rifles, the Donbass Battalion leader Semyon Semenchenko posted on Facebook. The pro-Russian gunmen were reinforced with an armored personnel carrier, heavy machine guns and grenades about an hour later.
During the heavy fighting, Mr. Semenchenko posted: “Just 15 kilometers from here in teh direction of Krasnoarmivsk there is a Ukrainian military checkpoint with four armored personnel carriers.”
His consistently updating posts revealed that his unit was pinned down and in need of immediate back-up.
“We can’t get to our (surrounded) comrades, there is sniper fire.”
He went on to express his anger towards the Ukrainian military forces lack of help: “All of my calls to military commanders have fallen on deaf ears.”
It was fighters from the Right Sector (Praviy Sektor) that came to Semenchenko and his mens’ rescue.
Soldiers of the Praviy Sektor were able to partially break the separatists’ encirclement of the Donbass Battalion fighters which allowed majority of them to escape.
However, not all of the Donbass Battalion members managed to escape
According to a post on facebook by Dmytro Yorosh, the Right Sector leader, an unspecified number of his and Donbass Battalion fighters were “killed in action” and many were wounded.
Mr. Yorosh also expressed his anger towards the Ukrainian military’s lack of assistance: “Again either the counterterrorist operation leadership is incompetent or they are traitors.”
He also stated this his men “have too few weapons” and “are ill-equipped, while the terrorists [pro-Russian militants] have superior arms.”
The Ukrainian military has been conducting mostly unsuccessful “anti-terrorism” operations against separatists in the east part of the country to destroy the pro-Russian grip in the area.
Four members of the Donbass Battalion were captured or killed, the Right Sector press service stated. Roughly two-thirds of the group, or around twenty men, were wounded.
The Praviy Sektor suffered no losses, but two men did sustain minor injuries, Interfax Ukraine reported.
Those wounded were taken to the military checkpoint near Krasnoarmiysk.
According to Mr. Semenchenko, Igor Bezler, a pro-Russian separatist leader in eastern Ukraine, called him and said that he had executed the captured Donbass Battalion members after talks to exchange prisoners had failed.
But, Mr. Semenchenko said he will not believe this claim until he sees the bodies of the dead battalion soldiers.
In some of his other Facebook posts, Mr. Smenchenko says that he believes some members of the Donbass Battalion could be traitors who leaked the unit’s movement to the pro-Russian gunmen who ambushed them.