News / Europe

    Ukraine Chaos Spreads to Odessa; Dozens Killed

    • Pro-Russia protesters storm the governor's business premises in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Pro-Russia protesters storm the governor's business premises in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian protesters gather to honor fallen comrades during fighting with pro-Ukrainian activists in Odessa on Friday, at the barricades in front of the administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin watches as foreign military observers hug each other following their release in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Smoke billows from burning tires at a pro-Russian checkpoint with a Donetsk republic flag following an attack by Ukrainian troops in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • An injured pro-Russian activist looks on during clashes with supporters of the Kyiv government in the streets of Odessa, Ukriane, May 2, 2014.
    • People wait to be rescued on upper levels of a trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint as tires burn in front of him, near the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian gunmen listen to instructions from their commander (center) behind barricades in Slovyansk, May 2, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian rebel aims his rifle at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    Events in Ukraine
    VOA News
    Dozens of people were killed in a fire and others were shot dead when fighting between pro- and anti-Russian groups broke out on the streets of Odessa on Ukraine's Black Sea coast on Friday, opening a new front in a conflict that has split the country.

    A revised Ukrainian government statement said the fire broke out in a trade union building, and that 31 bodies were found at the scene - seven fewer than police first reported. Most of the victims were apparently members of pro-Russian groups.  The Russian news agency RIA Novosti said about 50 other people were injured, including 10 police officers.

    Odessa, a key Black Sea port, had largely escaped the violence gripping large parts of eastern Ukraine.

    Earlier Friday, Ukrainian government forces launched the first major assault on the rebel-held eastern city of Slovyansk. Pro-Russian separatists brought down two Ukrainian military helicopters involved in the operation.

    Eastern Ukraine has been a focus of concern in Western capitals since Moscow annexed mainly Russian Crimea from Ukraine in March. Clashes have also broken out in largely Russian-speaking Odessa, not far from Crimea, but they had never involved deaths before.
    Odessa, UkraineOdessa, Ukraine
    x
    Odessa, Ukraine
    Odessa, Ukraine


    Police said at least three people were shot dead and 15 others were wounded in running battles between people backing Kyiv and pro-Russian activists in the town. The fighting continued into the evening.

    In the east, separatists said Ukrainian forces killed three of their fighters and two civilians when they moved in on Slovyansk in the early hours on Friday in what Moscow called a ``criminal'' assault.

    Kyiv said two helicopter crew members had died and seven servicemen had been wounded in the operation, which it admitted had not achieved much.

    Western media said Ukrainian forces had seized rebel checkpoints on the outskirts of the city, but have not advanced toward its heavily fortified center.

    President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said Ukrainian forces had fired on civilians from the air in Slovyansk in a ``punitive operation'' that destroyed an international peace plan. Moscow has tens of thousands of troops massed on the border and claims the right to invade if needed to protect Russian speakers.

    UN Security Council

    In New York, Western powers and Russia used an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to accuse each other of failing to take appropriate steps to de-escalate the crisis.

    British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said "the scale of Russian hypocrisy is breathtaking."

    For his part, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin accused the West of applying double standards in the crisis by condoning the current Ukrainian offensive, after urging then-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych not to deploy troops when his government in Kyiv was under siege earlier this year.

    And in Washington on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned that If Moscow continues fueling unrest in Ukraine, Putin and others in his leadership circle will face increasingly broad sanctions.  
     
    During a joint news conference at the White House Rose Garden, Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said they want to see a diplomatic resolution to the crisis.

    Otherwise, Obama and Merkel warned Russia that if it further destabilizes Ukraine or interferes in Ukraine's May 25 presidential elections, it will face more sanctions.

    Moscow presence questioned

    Earlier Friday, the Western-backed government in Kyiv said the use of missiles that brought down its helicopters was evidence that Russian forces were in the town. Moscow denies that its troops are on the ground.

    Ukraine's Turchynov said Russian ``armed saboteurs'' had tried to cross into the country overnight, but were pushed back by Ukrainian border troops. He gave no further details.

    Russia's Security Service said his report was untrue.

    Turchynov said the military operation had been complicated by the rebels' use of human shields and had not progressed as quickly as had been hoped.

    By early afternoon Friday, military operations in and around Slovyansk appeared to have ceased, leaving the region in a state of tension and Ukrainian and separatist forces facing off near a strategic bridge that was under government control. The Ukrainians did not seem eager to engage the militants, limiting their activities to tightening a cordon around the city of 130,000, the New York Times reported.

    The growing chaos is overshadowing a presidential election the pro-Western leadership in Kyiv is planning for May 25. The rebels are planning a vote on May 11 to seek a mandate to break with Kyiv, like one held in Crimea before Moscow took it over.

    EU response

    The European Union said it was watching events in eastern Ukraine with growing concern. But Kyiv is not a member of NATO and Western leaders have made clear they will not fight to defend Ukraine.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said NATO's European members needed to increase their defense spending in light of Russia's action in Ukraine.

    Hagel said one of the biggest obstacles to investment in defense was the sense that the prospect of conflict among nations had dissipated with the end of the Cold War.

    "Russia's actions in Ukraine shatter that myth and usher in bracing new realities," he said, speaking about the future of the NATO alliance at the Wilson Center in Washington on Friday.

    "Over the long term, we should expect Russia to test our alliance's purpose, stamina, and commitment," Hagel said.

    Earlier Friday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said in a statement that two Mi-24 attack helicopters had been shot down by shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles while on patrol overnight around Slovyansk.

    A third helicopter, an Mi-8 transport aircraft, was also hit and a serviceman wounded, the Defense Ministry said. Ukraine's Secret Security Service said this helicopter was carrying medics.

    Ukrainian officials said their troops overran rebel checkpoints and Slovyansk was now "tightly encircled."

    Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters, AP.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 4
     Previous   Next 
    by: Yung from: China
    May 02, 2014 8:47 PM
    "...the right to invade if needed to protect Russian speakers." What a reasonable reason!!! Screw you russian speaker. US and Europe have to do something to stop russian's further disgusting evil plot, you gave him an inch, and he is gonna take all. And China should have taken a stance against Russia on Crimean crisis before.
    In Response

    by: IGOR from: RUSSIA
    May 03, 2014 2:12 AM
    YOU ARE WRONG, RUSSIA NEVER INVADES ANY COUNTRY AS CHINA DID MANY TIMES IN THE PAST. CRIMEA WAS ROBBED FROM RUSSIA BY AN UKRAINIAN SOVIET LEADER AND NOW WE ONLY GET BACK WHAT BELONGS TO US. THE PEOPLE OF CRIMEA HAVE SUFFERED ENOUGH FROM KIEV AND IT IS HIGH TIME TO LIBERATE THEM.

    by: Anonymous
    May 02, 2014 5:49 PM
    Pro Russians can not break the law or they will be arrested. This is what we are seeing. Putin will have to suck it. Anyone unlawful should be arrested. Putin committed enough crimes himself so he best just keep out of it. I'd love to see the ICC put out a warrant for Putins crimes before Ukraine had their problems, crimes of the past.
    In Response

    by: Distony from: sbac
    May 03, 2014 5:52 AM
    Rightsector is terrorists.They made new cristal night for start 3.World war.They are with Thurcinov for court in Haag or for new models democrati for getting Nobels prices.Stop war criminals,stop genocid,stop killing.What doing Amnesty internacional and human rights watch.Stop war crime.stop rightsector, they made war crime and they are going now in court in Haag.
    In Response

    by: Hoang Dieu from: Vietnam
    May 03, 2014 5:20 AM
    You cannot say Pro Russians have broken the law because the so-called "law" is emposed by the illegal government in Kiev. So it is null and void to Ukraine people. The leaders of Pro Russians have not invited to any meeting between Russia, The US, The EU and those in Kiev. So the Pro Russians has no obligations to do what those in such meeting asked them to do. In fact those in Kiev are committing crime against humanity with the support and encouragement of the West.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    May 02, 2014 2:12 PM
    Talking about rebels here, is Ukraine already in a civil war? I think a civil war is one thing the West and USA should try to avoid by all means now, to avoid another disgraceful outing after the failure of Syria where Russia and Iran alone behind Assad have proved far too strong for the whole of the western and US support for the conglomeration of terrorists that want to overthrow the regime in Damascus. Previous failures have produced terrorists - al qaida - those demons that have refused to allow the world one single moment of peace once they have been created. That Europe and USA continue to link up with them and deploy them against enemies speaks volumes who is fooling who in the so-called war on terror.
    In Response

    by: Sepehr from: Iran
    May 02, 2014 10:07 PM
    Don't u see how Russia annexed a part of Ukraine? Who is unleashing terror now? We have to stop blaming US for everything that goes wrong in this world!
    In Response

    by: Taichi Robinhood
    May 02, 2014 4:44 PM
    That is absolutely correct. The Americans have unleashed the terror to the whole world!

    by: Lynda Moss from: England
    May 02, 2014 2:08 PM
    How come Pro Russian's are now "insurgents". What do you call the self imposed "government" of the Ukraine, were they insurgents when they overthrew the elected government by force? is it OK for them to behave in a barbaric way but not for pro Russians to protect themselves and want to be seperate from them?
    In Response

    by: Rez from: EU
    May 03, 2014 9:30 AM
    @zeb i don't believe that the current ukr.govt did everything "the right way" at all. theres alot of horror stories coming from very reliable sources, such as leaked phonecalls of EU officials. There is a big difference between the 2 - the current govt is mainly composed of extremists who have recieved alot of foreign financial support and direction (as you can also hear in the leaked phonecalls), the current protesters do alot of talking with the police and army and have won over a fair amount already, they are constantly the target of very vicious threats from the ukr.govt, threats which are now beginning to be carried out.
    In Response

    by: Hong Ha from: Vietnam
    May 03, 2014 2:19 AM
    There is a big different between groups. Those who overthrew legally elected government in Kiev by force with the support of the West, erected an illegal one and force others to accept it as their government. Those do not accept such kind of pirate government and protest for freedom supported by Russia.
    In Response

    by: zeb from: fairbanks
    May 02, 2014 4:34 PM
    I agree, but there is a difference between the groups one wanted a better country and life for there familys and get away from a complete corrupt government that was causing more harm then good. They also started out with protest an did everything the right way until they had to go violant. The pro Russian on the other hand started out violent and are now using people as human Shields. so there is a big difference between the two

    by: moritz katz from: germany
    May 02, 2014 12:16 PM
    Had the US meddled in to affairs thousands of miles from their shores this problem would never had happened. End of story God Bless Russia God Bless Putin
    In Response

    by: Obama hater from: Vietnam
    May 03, 2014 5:28 AM
    The fact is that those in power in Kiev are killing innocent civilians by military helicopters, tanks. They dare do such terrible things with the encouragement and support from Obama and his party. Obama and those who are killing innocent people must be put on trial for crime against humanity.
    In Response

    by: John from: Ohio
    May 02, 2014 4:31 PM
    You dont know wat the helll ur talking putin wants a new Soviet union he is former KGB he is know leader he is a dictator that changed laws so he could stay in power ..you love russia go back to live there but you wont cus people are starving and ur economy is garbage save that communist stuff for the sheep.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 02, 2014 3:45 PM
    @ moritz katz,
    no country stupid than Russia's Putin, supported terrorist around the world and it's neighboring Ukraine. Now the whole world understand that the patron of terror was Russia, Russia has sold all kinds of arm cheaper to terrorist and now send it's troops with mask on the face to ravage in Ukraine. Communist have no God and Putin will go to the HELL like Saddam Hussein very soon.
    In Response

    by: George Elser from: san francisco
    May 02, 2014 2:27 PM
    Moritz,will you stil say god bless Putin,when the red army is in Berlin ,raping and stealing?don't ask U.S.A for help.
    "those that forget history are condemned to repeat it"
    In Response

    by: melwin from: India
    May 02, 2014 1:26 PM
    Yes god will always bless the Russian and curse the Germany for their concentration camps which murdered millions,and god will curse the American with storm earthquake flood do to destroy their Good friend Ego.

    by: Anonymous
    May 02, 2014 12:13 PM
    Illegal activity, these are acts of criminals that should be brought to justice. Putin if he was any sort of "Man" at all , should of denounced violence from any Russian speaking people, and told them to abide by Ukrainian laws, while on Ukrainian soil. Putin also should of explained that if Russian speaking people in Ukraine do not follow Ukrainian laws, they will face Ukrainian justice system.

    Russia is not to enforce ether Ukrainian Laws, nor Russian Laws inside Ukraine on Ukrainian Soil. This would be the proper thing for Putin to tell the people, however by not doing so shows his pure involvement with not de-escalating the situation. In fact he has lined up tanks and troops along the border. All Putin does is promote violence, it is all he has ever done. Putin is not for the people, not in Russia, Ukraine, Syria, or the rest of the world for that matter. A disgrace to all human life.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 03, 2014 4:32 PM
    Nick Townsend from: UK you are wrong my friend. Anyone in Ukraine have to follow Ukrainian laws and keep the peace. Nowhere do those Russian Speaking Ukrainians have a right to storm in to Government buildings and hold the buildings hostage against the Ukrainian military. By doing so they are DIRECT enemies of the state. I figured they should either gas them buildings or burn them and create new ones. They should use the EXACT same gas as Putin used in the Moscow Siege, that way Putin can't cry fowl. Putin has committed enough crimes, he should not commit more. A warrant for Putin's illegal activities over the years should be implemented by the International Criminal Court, he is long overdue.
    In Response

    by: Nick Townsend from: UK
    May 03, 2014 5:37 AM
    You are wrong. Russian speaking people in Ukraine are Ukrainians. They will obey the laws but the laws of the legally elected government. They do not have the obligations to obey the law of the pirates who got power in Kiev by force and violence. They live in Ukraine so they have the right to choose the persons who will represent their interests. Those in Kiev who are like pirates,seizing power illegally have no legitimate rights to empose laws at all. They even use tanks, helicopters to massacre barbarously civilians.
    In Response

    by: dmp1991 from: London, UK
    May 02, 2014 12:37 PM
    This cannot be said enough -- Russians living in Ukraine are subject to Ukrainian laws and should follow them. Russia should back that up. If they want to protect Russian-speaking people, evacuate them -- send in the planes like any number of other governments do to get their citizens out of harms way. Anything else, like sending in troops undercover of not wearing branded army uniforms, is just designed to cause chaos and hurt Ukraine.

    by: Kee Kee from: Right Behind You
    May 02, 2014 12:06 PM
    Where the *bleep* did civilians get missiles?

    Yes, this is just the plain old factory workers fighting for their rights.
    In Response

    by: Igor from: Russia
    May 03, 2014 5:41 AM
    Simplely enough, Not all Ukrainian troops stand with those in Kiev. Many of them join the people and protect the people from Kiev aggression. So they must have used any weapons in their hands including missiles.

    by: godmanneo from: phoenix
    May 02, 2014 11:55 AM
    There will be wars and rhumors of wars. Nation will rise up against nation and kingdom against kingdom. Do not fear these things must happen. This is the beginning of the birth pains.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    May 02, 2014 8:27 PM
    There have always been wars and rumours of wars, and nations and kingdoms have always fought...like...forever.
    In Response

    by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
    May 02, 2014 12:31 PM
    Got it.

    by: tiktin from: Boise, Idaho
    May 02, 2014 11:52 AM
    Chuck Hagel says NATO states must increase defense spending. Yeah, Chuck, the military industrial complex needs the money. By the way, how much of a kick-back are you getting?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous from: Phil
    May 03, 2014 9:35 AM
    Secret kick-back

    by: NewWorldPatriot from: World
    May 02, 2014 11:02 AM
    So let me get this straight, some rag-tag pro-Russia rebels shot down a pair of Hind-D's? Due to the press, I doubt the bulk of the world (that includes me) will ever know or fully understand or appreciate the details and nuances of this conflict.

    That said, I seriously doubt a pair of blokes from the local pub, wearing life vests with drink holders, splashed a pair of flying tanks.

    That begs the question of who the pro-Russian rebels really are? I'm seeing AK-103's in some of the pictures which leads me to believe Russian special forces are heavily involved. If that's the case, the term pro-Russian rebels isn't quite accurate now is it?
    In Response

    by: Ramos from: Africa
    May 03, 2014 5:50 AM
    Since you're able to recognize the type of gun they were carrying, you're not a civilian either.
    Comments page of 4
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