Ukraine prepares armed response as city seized by pro-Russia forces

The Globe & Mail / Reuters, By Pavel Polityuk & Thomas Grove, April 12

Kiev/Moscow – Armed separatists took virtual control of a city in eastern Ukraine on Saturday and Kiev prepared troops to deal with what it called an “act of aggression by Russia”.

Pro-Russian activists carrying automatic weapons seized government buildings in Slaviansk and set up barricades on the outskirts of the city. Official buildings in several neighbouring towns were also attacked.

The developments have increased concerns of a possible “gas war” that could disrupt energy supplies across the continent.

“The Ukrainian authorities consider the events of the day as a display of external aggression from Russia,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a statement.

“Units of the interior and defence ministries are implementing an operational response plan,” he added.

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Al Jazeera: Several police buildings seized in Ukraine – Security forces exchange fire with men in Kramatorska and separatists also take buildings in Slovyansk and Donetsk.
Voice Of Russia: Lavrov denies east Ukraine unrest was conducted by supposed Russian agents
Reuters: Ukraine gives rebels deadline to disarm or face military operation , April 13

Ukraine has given pro-Russian separatists a Monday morning deadline to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces, raising the risk of a military confrontation with Moscow.

Angered by the death of a state security officer and the wounding of two comrades near the flashpoint eastern city of Slaviansk, acting president Oleksander Turchinov gave rebels occupying state buildings until 0600 GMT to lay down their weapons.

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CNN: U.N. Security Council to meet soon on Ukraine

The U.N. Security Council has called an urgent, previously unscheduled meeting Sunday night to discuss the worsening situation in Ukraine.

The delegation from Luxembourg tweeted the “urgent consultations” were requested by Russia and would be held at 8 p.m. ET.


2 comments to Ukraine prepares armed response as city seized by pro-Russia forces

  • Raja

    Ukraine moves against pro-Russian gunmen in East, triggering bloody gun battle

    Washington Post, By Kathy Lally, April 13

    Moscow – The conflict between pro-Russian gunmen and Ukrainian authorities turned bloody on Sunday, with one security serviceman killed and reports of people wounded on both sides, escalating the struggle for the eastern part of the country a week after separatists began systematically occupying government buildings.

    Gunfire – the first reported between authorities and pro-Russian separatists – was set off as Ukraine declared an “anti-terrorist” operation Sunday using the Army against a burgeoning revolt in the Donetsk region over the weekend.

    “The blood of Ukrainian heroes has been shed in a war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” President Oleksander Turchynov said in an address to the nation Sunday evening. “The aggressor has not stopped and is continuing to sow disorder in the east of the country.”

    The armed assaults on government buildings in the Donetsk region, close to the Russian border, alarmed not only the leadership in Kiev – which accused Moscow of a coordinated campaign of aggression against Ukraine – but those in the West as well. The attacks, officials said, were reminiscent of the shadowy invasion of the Crimean Peninsula, which resulted in its annexation by Russia last month.

    “Well, it has all the telltale signs of what we saw in Crimea,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sunday. “It’s professional, it’s coordinated, there’s nothing grass-roots-seeming about it.”


    Ukraine tries to clear pro-Russian rebels, deaths reported

    Al Jazeera, April 13

    Ukrainian security forces launched an operation on Sunday to clear pro-Russian separatists from a police headquarters in the eastern city of Slovyansk, with Kyiv reporting dead on both sides as it combats what it calls an act of aggression by Moscow.

    Masked men standing on barricades outside the police station chanted “Russia Russia” as a military helicopter flew overhead.

    Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said Sunday that Russia is carrying out a war against Ukraine and continues to sow disorder in the eastern part of the country. Turchynov added that armed forces would participate in further ‘anti-terrorist’ operations and that any rebels who gave up their weapons by Monday morning would be given amnesty.

    Separatist protesters Sunday also seized control of the mayor’s office in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, local media said. Police did not try to stop them. Men entered the offices, took down the Ukrainian flag and were erecting barricades outside the building.

    […]

    Ukrainian commentator Sergei Leshchenko said the burst of activity by pro-Russian groups was an attempt by the Kremlin to secure a strong negotiating position before international talks about Ukraine. Representatives of Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union are due to meet in Geneva on Thursday for the talks.

    “Russia will come to the talks with the position that ‘Donetsk and several neighboring regions are already ours — now let’s talk about federalization’,” said Leshchenko, a commentator with the Ukrainska Pravda newspaper.


    UN ambassador: Ukraine unrest has ‘tell-tale signs of Moscow’s involvement’

    The Guardian, By Paul Lewis, April 13

    Washington – Ukrainian forces engaged in a deadly gun battle with unknown armed men in the country’s eastern region on Sunday, prompting a senior US diplomat to accuse Moscow of staging another Crimea-style intervention.

    Later in the day, the Russian foreign ministry issued a statement on Facebook which said: “It now particularly depends on the west to avoid a civil war in Ukraine.”

    […]

    This week could see the first four-way talks between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US since the crisis in Ukraine began. The proposed talks have been touted by Moscow as evidence of its willingness to engage in dialogue over Ukraine.

    But with unrest appearing to reach a crescendo, it is unclear whether the meeting will take place. On Friday, two days after the potential talks were announced, the State Department said no meeting had been finalised.

    The White House did announce over the weekend that the vice-president, Joe Biden, will travel to Kiev later this month in a show of solidarity with the country’s new government, which is planning presidential elections in May.

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    RT: Ukraine turmoil LIVE UPDATES

    Tuesday, April 15:

    01:59 GMT:

    The aide to the acting mayor of the eastern Ukrainian town of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, and a representative of the self-defence units denied earlier media reports of fighting on the outskirts of the city, RIA Novosti quoted her as saying. “According to our information everything is calm in the vicinity of Slavyansk,” she said.
    01:20 GMT:

    Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev was brutally beaten by radicals and is now in critical condition, after being trapped inside the ICTV building after appearing on the Ukrainian talk show ‘Svoboda Slova’, Tsarev’s press office reported. Earlier, there were reports of the entire building being surrounded by unidentified gunmen.
    01:16 GMT:

    A self-defence faction of the Ukrainian eastern city of Slavyansk is reporting fighting on the outskirts of the town, according to Interfax. There are reports of a building burning and shots being fired in the nearby village of Andrrevka.

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  • nymole

    Ian Welsh posts his take on the situation on his blog here

    Pro-Russian “militias” seized the city of Slovyansk, now Ukraine is attacking to take it back.

    This is a profoundly dangerous situation. On the one hand, if the Ukrainian government had done nothing, Russia would have de-facto control over the East. But Putin has repeatedly warned Ukraine not to attack pro-Russian militias.
    more at the link

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