Army troops have restored control over a small military airfield in the east of the country that had been occupied by pro-Russian militia, says Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov.
It was the first military action taken by the government after President Turchynov announced an “anti-terrorist operation” against the separatists who have seized control of numerous buildings in the east of the country.
Heavy gunfire rang out at the airport near Kramatorsk on Tuesday, but there was no immediate confirmation of any casualties.
“The aim of these actions is to protect the citizens of Ukraine, to stop terror, to stop criminality, to stop attempts to tear Ukraine to pieces,” acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told Parliament.
The United States has so far supported the Ukrainian government’s military action, acknowledging that the government has shown “great restraint” and their recent military intervention is warranted.
White House spokesperson Jay Carney said US officials “urge the Ukrainian government to move forward gradually, cautiously.”