News / Europe

Pro-Russia Separatists Seize More Ukraine Buildings

Pro-Russian armed men take cover behind a car near the local police headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
Pro-Russian armed men take cover behind a car near the local police headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
VOA News
Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists overran more Ukrainian government buildings near the Russian border Tuesday, seizing a prosecutor's office in Luhansk and attacking a police station with clubs and automatic weapons.

Local authorities say police did not offer resistance, and witnesses say gunmen raised a separatist flag over government headquarters in the city of 450,000 residents.

The takeover appears to give pro-Moscow rebels control of a second provincial capital in the east, after separatists seized control of Donetsk Monday and set a referendum on secession for May 11.  A similar vote last month led to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

The government in Kyiv has all but lost control of its police forces in parts of eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian activists have seized buildings in the region's second biggest city of Donetsk and several smaller towns.
   
  • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, one of the largest cities in Ukraine's troubled east, April 29, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, further raising tensions in the east, where insurgents have seized control of police stations and other government buildings in at least 10 cities and towns.
  • Pro-Russian activists storm an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian activists trample a Ukraine flag as other celebrate the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
  • A group of Ukrainian police officers leave the administration building which has been captured by Pro-Russian activists in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
  • A Pro-Russian activist waves a Donbas Republic flag over a crowd celebrating the capture of an administration building in the center of Luhansk, Ukraine, April 29, 2014.
  • Pro-Russian activists inside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists stormed the headquarters on Tuesday, unopposed by police.
  • Pro-Russian supporters gather outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists stormed the headquarters on Tuesday, taking over the building.

"The regional leadership does not control its police force,'' said Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. "The local police did nothing.''

Meanwhile, Hennady Kernes, the mayor of eastern Ukraine's biggest city, Kharkiv, was in a stable condition on Tuesday in a hospital in Israel, where he was flown after an apparent assassination attempt.

US, EU sanctions

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Tuesday that international sanctions imposed on Russia are putting pressure on the country's economy, and that more actions may be taken if Moscow's behavior does not change.
       
"You have to look over the period of time Russia went into Crimea, since we've imposed sanctions, there has been a quite substantial deterioration in Russia's already weak economy," Lew told a U.S. House Appropriations subcommittee hearing. "We see it in their stock exchange, we see it in their exchange rate, we see it in a number of important economic indicators.''

Lew said the United States is keeping its options open and is prepared to take further action if Russian policy toward Ukraine doesn't change.

The European Union Tuesday announced asset freezes and travel bans on 15 Russians and Ukrainians over Moscow's actions in Ukraine, but the measures were seen as less aggressive than sanctions imposed this week by the United States

While visiting Cuba Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed U.S. and European Union sanctions, saying they defied common sense and were the work of weak politicians in the West "attempting to blame others."

Putin on sanctions
 

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia sees no need for counter-sanctions against the West, but could reconsider the participation of Western companies in its economy, including energy projects, if sanctions continued.

“We would very much wish not to resort to any measures in response,” he told reporters after meeting leaders of Belarus and Kazakhstan in Minsk.

“But if something like that continues, we will of course have to think about who is working in the key sectors of the Russian economy, including the energy sector, and how,” added Putin.

Putin reiterated his accusations that the United States was orchestrating the Ukraine crisis.

Intercepted calls

Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States has recordings proving that Moscow is running a network of spies inside eastern Ukraine, reports The Daily Beast which says it obtained a recording of a closed-door meeting attended by the U.S. top diplomat.

“We know exactly who’s giving those orders, we know where they are coming from,” Kerry reportedly said at a private meeting of the Trilateral Commission in Washington.

Kerry, according to The Daily Beast, didn’t name specific Russian officials implicated but claimed that the intercepts provided proof of Moscow deliberately fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine - and lying about it to U.S. officials and the public.

“This is insulting to everybody’s intelligence, let alone to our notions about how we ought to be behaving in the 21st century. It’s thuggism, it’s rogue state-ism. It’s the worst order of behavior,” Kerry reportedly said.

Status of OSCE monitors

In separatist-held Slovyansk, the self-declared mayor said he would discuss the release of detained military observers only if the European Union dropped sanctions against rebel leaders.

But later in the day, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said "good progress" had been made in talks with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on the release of seven of its observers held since Friday. The observers had travelled to eastern Ukraine under the auspices of the democracy watchdog.
 

Troops on border

Meanwhile, there is no visible sign of any sizeable troop movements away from Ukraine's border where Moscow deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and hardware, a NATO official said Tuesday.

In a phone call Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russian forces, which he said started drills near the border last week, had returned to their permanent positions, according to the Russian government.

"We currently have no information that indicates a  withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. We continue to urge Russia to abide by the Geneva agreement and to pull back all its troops along the Ukrainian border in favor of diplomacy and dialogue,'' a NATO official told Reuters. 

Some information for this report contributed by AP and Reuters.
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by: Alan Castillo
May 01, 2014 12:50 AM
Can someone please tell my why Ukraine police continue to avoid imposing rule of law...something does not seem right ...either Ukrainians are complicit...totally pacifist...or just weak and unwilling to fight for their country...We should not be fighting for people who will not fight for themselves...period.

by: Anonymous
April 30, 2014 2:44 PM
This country not easy to solve it problem, because its ppl have half to both sides.

by: Eduardo Linares-Batres from: Guatemala City, Guatemala
April 30, 2014 12:32 AM
Secretary Kerry has it right: Putin and cohorts are unenlightened thugs. In Ukraine’s case, they are the “neocoms” (neo-communists) from Russia/USSR-2, the new edition of what our president Ronald Reagan originally said came out of “the evil empire.” The evilness is there to see, along with the extraordinary affinity that communists (paleos- and neos-) everywhere have always had for violence and lawlessness. Europe must stop buying neocom hydrocarbons, or face much worse consequences in the not-so-far-future.

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 30, 2014 12:30 AM
The Ukrainian military needs to reinforce and take back their cities. those that raise up against the Government must be brought justice.Secondly, military action should be taken against those Putin rebels. First of all, if a civilian put on a military uniform and holds a long rang automatic Gun in his or her hands, make he or she a military personel. Those are not civilians, those are military men and women. so the Ukrainian military need to defend their sovereignty. If everybody die, let them died. at least, it will be written in history that the Ukrainian people defended their country. they stood against the Russians as men. Secondly the Ukrainian military should not under estimate themselves. The ability of a weapon, depends on the user of the weapon. I dont care how many weapons Russia has, Ukraine can have less and still defeat Russia. it is call the momental. They can inspired themselves to do more with few weapons. when Mr. Putin went to Georgia, they people fought for their rights. so likewise Ukraine should do the same. you can sit back and Mr. Putin just walk over you.No way. they should all die for their Country. Let them stand up to Mr. Putin nonsense. God Bless the Ukrainian people, you are not alone in this.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 30, 2014 11:59 PM
Eyebomb, the fact of the matter is you cannot override the will of the people, we do understand this is not a unify country because Mr. Putin has an agenda to to bring Ukraine back under the Russian ruling. Secondly if the people of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine wanted to be under Russia, The had a choice at that time in 1990 referendum, but they choose to go with Ukraine. it is evidence the people were living fine until Mr. Putin step into their country and destroy it. As we all can see it happening. They had a choice, and they made their choice, they choose Ukraine over Russia. Let us accept the facts, Mr. Putin is wrong. Russia cannot do nothing to Ukraine. We are talking about war my friend. there is no way you can just march over another country.Look what happened in Georgia, and still Mr. Putin did not win.Eyebomb I hope you and I remember this conversation, and we will be back here again on this topic.
In Response

by: eyebomb from: new york
April 30, 2014 3:50 PM
Leroy, the Ukrainians actually are alone in this. The best outcome is that sensible people realize there is no advantage to die for their country when that country is corrupt, bankrupt and split by regional/ethnic differences. This is not a unified country we're talking about, the eastern areas were part of Russia for a long time and most people in those areas are in fact Russian. They may not all want to join back to Russia but they don't support Kiev in the west either. So if the choices are to die or join Russia, they may as well join Russia because Putin is bent on restoring areas which were arbitrarily made a part of Ukraine in the Soviet era when it didn't really matter where the border lines were drawn. Either way it's ridiculous for the west to claim the moral high ground of protecting Russians from Russia, much as we may hate Putin and his thuggish fascism (sadly his regime is probably a better alternative to the corruption + chaos going on in Kiev). But hey, if you are so hell bent on sending people into the meat grinder of war (which Ukraine has no chance of winning despite your optimistic encouragements), feel free to play a few rounds of Russian roulette in front of the mirror.

by: gen from: Japan
April 29, 2014 11:04 PM
Uraine government in kiev,it is also like a separatist.
Ukraine government seems to separat the world.One is USA,the other is Russia.Ukraine government is also separatist.Everyone should ignore Ukraine government.

by: Pro-Russian from: Ukraine
April 29, 2014 10:48 PM
I don't understand how the United States or the EU believe that placing sanctions on Russia will help deter Putin from destabilizing eastern Ukraine. At least it is better than doing nothing. The situation in Ukraine is really a series of events that are the inevitable. It is my opinion that Ukraine will fare better if it becomes joined with Russia. Russia needs Ukraine just as much. Ukraine only proves to do well if it is an integral part of another entity such as the Soviet Union.

by: tiktin from: Boise, Idaho
April 29, 2014 10:42 PM
I cannot find anything in the European news media about EU sanctions other than one item at the end of a long report about the German military officers being held by pro-russian separatists in east Ukraine. It obviously makes no sense to take hostile actions against Russia while at the same time trying to get their help in getting these officers released. The report said new sanctions have been "agreed upon". It said nothing about their being implemented. Meanwhile, the former German chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, met with president Putin with every sign of affection and brotherly love. I don't think the Europeans are "on board" as they say. In other words, they are sane.

by: meanbill from: USA
April 29, 2014 7:18 PM
To save Ukraine; -- The pro-western Kiev controlled government must somehow join with the opposition, (without outside interference), and rewrite a new Ukraine constitution, that is inclusive of all Ukrainians and recognizes the rights of all Ukrainians...
ONLY then, will Ukraine be ready for Democratic elections, and unite the Ukrainian people together again into one country... (No Justice, will bring no peace)..
PS; Russia will (for humanitarian reasons) intervene if the pro-western Kiev government uses it's military to suppress with violence the Russian speaking Ukrainians...

by: gen from: Japan
April 29, 2014 7:09 PM
Putin might know Japanese war feudal lord"Singen Takeda" in 16th AD . Russian military stay in Russia territory.It is like "Don't move like a mountain".
The next is "Attack like a fire fiercely",fudal warlord Singen Takeda said at his war.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta, Nigeria.
April 29, 2014 11:54 AM
Waiting on Putin to abide by any form of agreement is like a kid hoping for candy to drop from haven ,Russian forces are already in eastern Ukraine destabilizing the region with impunity.
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