President Petro Poroshenko met in Kyiv on Wednesday with the mothers and wives of 17 soldiers and officers who had been just freed from captivity in Horlivka, Donetsk region.
"We are doing everything possible to free all Ukrainian hostages held by terrorists and criminals. Notwithstanding inhuman tortures, our guys stood tall and strong and endured the hard ordeals with dignity. The operation was under my personal control and was kept under wraps until the men were freed from captivity. That's why you didn't hear the news until they safely arrived in Kyiv. A total of 168 officers and men were held in captivity. Now the number has reduced by 17," Poroshenko said. Addressing the freed officers and men, he said, "Ukraine is proud of your courage and endurance, and you can be proud of your mothers and wives who have been waiting for you." He said Horlivka was encircled by government forces that blocked all access roads except the one linking the city to Donetsk. He stressed that while liberating all cities and villages from terrorists, the Ukrainian military did everything possible to avoid civilian casualties and damages to dwellings and infrastructure. "We don't use artillery or aviation against residential areas. In this situation we employ all other methods to squeeze militants out," Poroshenko said.