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After shaky start, Ukraine turns eastern offensive around

Published on Jul 30, 2014 6:34 AM
 
Ukrainian servicemen sitting atop armored personnel carriers (APC) travel near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. -- PHOTO: AFP

KIEV (AFP) - When Ukraine’s military offensive to oust pro-Russian rebels from the restive east began in mid-April with humiliated soldiers meekly surrendering their armoured vehicles it looked doomed to failure.

But after more than three months of brutal fighting that has claimed some 1,100 lives, a sudden advance by battle-hardened government forces in recent weeks has seen them snatch back a string of key towns and left the once confident insurgents scrambling.

Analysts say the dramatic turnaround is down to a combination of growing professionalism and ruthlessness from Kiev’s forces on the one hand and the shifting nature of the support that Russia is giving the rebels.

“The Ukrainian army is finding out how to fight as it goes along and has shown how capable it is of learning,” said Valentyn Badrak, director of the Research Centre for the Army, Demilitarisation and Disarmament in Kiev.

 
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