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.
Error rendering storify.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Eduardo Linares-Batres from: Guatemala
April 29, 2014 10:22 AM
They must be laughing again at the Kremlin. Sanctions against individuals for actions taken as a nation? The only valid opposition which a non-democratic, putinesque Russia/USSR-2 will respect is serious, wide-ranging economic boycott; unless the EU stops buying Russian hydrocarbons, it will not “get the message,” and Europe is too compromised by its leftists to be able to do that. Expect other bordering nations to be taken back into the USSR-2’s fold.
     

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs