SLOVYANSK, Ukraine, May 6 (UPI) -- Thirty pro-Russian militants and four Ukrainian soldiers were killed Monday night as the Ukrainian government attempts to regain control of the region.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced the death toll Tuesday morning, saying that the pro-Russian militants attempted to ambush government forces on the outskirts of Slovyansk. Avakov claims the rebels used heavy weapons, including mortars, in the attack.
Since the clashes Monday, it is reported that the militants have quietly retreated to the city center, where there has since been a lull in fighting between the Ukrainian troops and approximately 800 pro-Russian insurgents.
The clashes were part of a massive campaign by the Ukrainian government to regain control of the eastern region after pro-Russian activists seized dozens of government buildings. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk traveled to Odessa Sunday after dozens were killed in the southern port city Friday.
Yatsenyuk accused Russia of inciting the violence as part of a plan to "destroy Ukraine and its statehood."
Russia has been accused several times of sending in agents to stir unrest in the region and supplying weapons to the pro-Russian militants. Russia has denied all such accusations.
Ukraine claims they have control of the region but freelance journalist Maxim Eristavi told the Huffington Post that the increase in street violence is a result of total lack of control by local authorities.