Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Thursday that pro-Russian rebels had paid a "high price" for their escalating attacks on government forces across the separatist east.
"Our enemy paid a high price for its opportunistic attacks on our armed forces," his office quoted Poroshenko as telling an emergency security meeting convened after Kiev's decision to give up its months-long defence of Donetsk airport in the east.
Poroshenko said he intended to award medals to a skeleton force of Ukrainian paratroopers who had managed to hold on to the prized site despite being surrounded and outnumbered by the heavily armed militants.
He added in opening remarks that his generals should be ready to strike back at the insurgents if they continued to violate the terms of a September truce deal signed by the warring sides and Russia.
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