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KIEV, August 17 /ITAR-TASS/. Luhansk militia has shot down a MiG-29 (Fulcrum) fighter plane of the Ukrainian army in the country’s east, spokesman for Kiev’s military operation Leonid Matyukhin said on Sunday.
The pilot ejected and was taken to a safe place, Matyukhin told the Ukrainian Channel 5.
Meanwhile, self-defense fighters in east Ukraine’s Donetsk have launched a counter-offensive on the Ukrainian troops in the area, commander of the pro-Kiev Donbass battalion Semyon Semenchenko wrote in his blog.
“Despite strange media reports in the last few days that ‘rebels are in agony and running away,’ the situation has, on the contrary, deteriorated,” he said.
“Fierce fighting is continuing for control of Saur-Mogila [near Donetsk]. We are being counter-attacked,” he said.
The Donbass battalion commander said the Ukrainian recruits’ combat spirit was low and the army was unable to defeat self-defense fighters with such command and existing corruption.
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council earlier reported that 568 servicemen had been killed and another 2,120 wounded as of August 11 in Kiev’s military operation in the country’s east.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier said that there were about 50,000 Ukrainian troops in the conflict area.
Pro-Kiev troops and local militias in the eastern Ukrainian Donetsk and Luhansk regions are involved in fierce clashes as the Ukrainian armed forces are conducting a military operation to regain control over the breakaway regions, which on May 11 proclaimed their independence at local referendums.
During the military operation, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled east.