DONETSK, March 31. /TASS/. The Donetsk People’s Republic’s forces have shot down two Ukrainian helicopters, sent for the evacuation of the Ukrainian nationalists’ ringleaders from Mariupol, the Donetsk people’s militia’s spokesman, Eduard Basurin, said on Thursday.
"The political leadership in Kiev has made another attempt to evacuate the ringleaders of Ukrainian nationalists from Mariupol. Our air defense systems this morning spotted and destroyed two enemy helicopters near Mariupol. One of them crashed near Rybatskoye. The site where the other helicopter crashed and the number of nationalists eliminated are being specified," he said.
Basurin addressed the nationalists with another call for laying down weapons.
On March 28, the Russian army shot down Ukraine’s Mi-8 helicopter, sent for picking up the commanders of the Azov battalion.
The situation on the engagement line in Donbass aggravated on February 17. The Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics reported the worst bombardments from Ukraine in recent months. On February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the recognition of the DPR and LPR as sovereign countries within the borders of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions that existed at the beginning of 2014.
On February 24, Putin in response to a request for help from the Donbass republics launched a special military operation in Ukraine with the aim of the country’s demilitarization. The DPR and LPR began their own operation to regain their territories remaining under the Kiev authorities’ control.