Donetsk (Ukraine): Ukraine`s newly elected president vowed on Wednesday to quickly end an eastern revolt after a fierce army push to reclaim a major airport saw more than 40 pro-Russian rebels killed.
The deserted streets of the million-strong rust belt city of Donetsk echoed with bursts of morning gunfire after a devastating two-day firefight in which Ukrainian fighter bombers flushed out more than 100 gunmen who had seized the region`s most important air hub.
Ukrainian officials said they were now in control of the airport and working hard to secure the release of four European civilian observers abducted at a rebel roadblock outside the city on Monday.
But president-elect Petro Poroshenko and his pro-Western cabinet were bracing for a fresh crisis on Wednesday with the looming threat of Russia`s vital gas flows being halted at the start of next week.
European leaders called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to help his smaller neighbour by using his leverage with the rebels to end a revolt that has claimed around 200 lives since they grabbed effective control of a dozen towns and cities in early April.
But Moscow has thus far failed to reach out to Poroshenko -- a 48-year-old billionaire candymaker elected by a resounding margin on Sunday -- and cautioned Ukraine that its stepped-up military offensive could only backfire.
Poroshenko told Germany`s Bild daily ahead of a Wednesday visit to Berlin by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk that Ukraine had simply run out of options and could no longer put up with the violence threatening its very existence as a sovereign state.
"We will no longer let these terrorists kidnap people and kill them," said Poroshenko.
"We will end this terror. A real war is being waged against our country."
Some analysts think Kiev has ratcheted up its campaign believing that the 40-point margin of Poroshenko`s victory will make it hard for Moscow to question his legitimacy and order its troops to "protect" the east`s ethnic Russians.