Urban warfare feared in Ukraine fighting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Urban warfare feared in Ukraine fighting

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky). A Donetsk People's Republic fighter says goodbye to his family who are departing as refugees to Russia in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky). A Donetsk People's Republic fighter says goodbye to his family who are departing as refugees to Russia in the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov). Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" in Kiev, Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov). Volunteers take an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, before being sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion "Azov" in Kiev, Ukraine Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
(AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov) (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
  • NationalMore>>

  • Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids

    Police hunt for 2 who carjacked SUV, killed 3 kids

    Saturday, July 26 2014 2:02 AM EDT2014-07-26 06:02:47 GMT
    Police are searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit at a Philadelphia street corner, killing three kids and seriously injuring two women.More >>
    Police were searching for two men who carjacked an SUV and plowed into a group of children and adults selling fruit to raise money for their church, killing three kids and critically injuring their mother and the...More >>
  • Ohio State under shadow again, this time with band

    Ohio State under shadow again, this time with band

    Saturday, July 26 2014 12:45 AM EDT2014-07-26 04:45:52 GMT
    The Ohio State marching band is moving forward without its director; a day after he was fired they're performing with the Columbus Symphony in what's often considered the band's unofficial season kickoff.More >>
    Having forced out a beloved football coach and watched its president retire after a series of verbal gaffes, Ohio State University again finds itself grabbing headlines with the firing of a celebrated marching band...More >>
  • Baby dies after being left in hot car in Kansas

    Baby dies after being left in hot car in Kansas

    Friday, July 25 2014 11:56 PM EDT2014-07-26 03:56:40 GMT
    Police have arrested the foster parent of a 10-month-old girl who died after being left inside a hot car in Wichita, Kansas.More >>
    A 10-month-old Kansas girl died after being strapped for more than two hours inside a sweltering car, and police arrested a foster parent who said he'd forgotten about her until something on TV jogged his memory, an...More >>
By PETER LEONARD
Associated Press

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Insurgents bade tearful farewells Wednesday as they loaded their families onto Russia-bound buses and began hunkering down for what could be the next phase in Ukraine's conflict: bloody urban warfare.

While the pro-Russian rebels in the east have lost much ground in recent weeks and were driven from their stronghold of Slovyansk, many have regrouped in Donetsk, an industrial city that had a population of 1 million before tens of thousands of civilians started fleeing for fear of a government siege.

The rebels also hold the city of Luhansk, where they are said to be taking up positions in residential and industrial zones while lobbing artillery at government troops.

Despite the government's desire to minimize civilian casualties, Ukraine's forces could find themselves dragged into grueling warfare inside the cities in their battle to hold the country together.

"To respond to this phase ... we evidently must change tactics," said Valeriy Chaly, deputy head of the presidential administration. He refrained from specifying how.

Insurgents in Donetsk appeared be bracing for a bitter fight as they shipped their relatives out of the city.

One fighter, who declined to give his name, told The Associated Press that not having his wife and young daughter with him would free him to concentrate on the battles ahead.

"It is easier for us this way. It is easier to fight. Your soul is not ripped into two, because when they're here, you think about war and about your family - if they are OK or not," he said. "When you know that they are safe, it is easier to go to fight."

Meanwhile, the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union separately announced tougher new sanctions against Russia, which is accused of fomenting the unrest by supplying the separatists with fighters and heavy weapons - an allegation Moscow denies.

The U.S. slapped restrictions on Russian weapons manufacturers, energy companies and banks, while the EU moved to stop new European financing agreements with Moscow.

At the same time, the Pentagon warned that Russia is building up its forces along the Ukraine border again, with 12,000 troops massed there, reflecting a steady increase in recent weeks.

If Ukrainian forces take the fight into the heart of rebel-held cities, it will be a type of combat for which they are not believed to be adequately prepared.

"It's a very complicated strategic task - not only when it comes to tactics, also in terms of equipment. When rebels are putting missile launchers on school rooftops, what do you do?" said Orysia Lutsevych, a research fellow at Chatham House in London.

Matthew Clements, an analyst with security affairs consultancy HIS, said Ukraine may, instead of entering Donetsk and Luhansk, surround the cities, "cut the separatists off from supplies of fighters and equipment, and undertake gradual operations against the cities and suburbs in an effort to wear the separatists down."

Disrupting supply lines is a particular priority for Kiev as the rebels have lately come into possession of advanced weapons, including tanks and multiple rocket launchers.

A hail of rockets that Ukrainian officials said came from a Russian-made launcher killed at least 19 government servicemen last week.

___

Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Matthew Lee in Washington; Mstyslav Chernov in Donetsk, Ukraine; and Matthew Knight in London contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.