News / Europe

Ukraine Confirms Pro-Russians Seized Armored Vehicles

Armed Pro-Russian Separatists Seize Ukrainian Military Vehiclesi
Jeff Custer
April 16, 2014 2:25 PM
Armored personnel carriers with armed men riding on top and flying Russian flags rolled into the city of Slovyansk near the Russian border Wednesday, further escalating tensions in the Ukraine crisis. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Armed Pro-Russian Separatists Seize Ukrainian Military Vehicles
VOA News
Pro-Russian separatists raised the Russian flag on Ukrainian army armored vehicles in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, mocking the pro-Western Kyiv government's attempt to reassert control on the eve of crucial talks in Geneva on the country's future.

A Ukrainian defense ministry statement confirmed that six armored personnel carriers were seized with the help of Russian agents, Reuters reported.

The defense ministry statement said the troop carriers are now in Slovyansk, guarded by "people in uniforms who have no relation to Ukraine's armed forces."

Meanwhile, Ukraine's counter-intelligence chief said he has evidence of Russia's involvement in eastern provinces. According to Reuters, Vitaly Nayda told a news conference Wednesday that the determination was made after intercepting conversations of the Russian military from Sloviansk. The official said 40 agents 'recruited by Russian security services' had been arrested.  Nayada added that those arrested had admitted to being recruited and were now assisting with the investigation.

Amid escalating rhetoric between Moscow and Kyiv, the incident in Slovyansk  highlighted defiance by pro-Russian separatists, undermining the central government efforts to push armed rebels out of captured buildings in 10 eastern towns without bloodshed.

Government troops had driven armored personnel carriers flying the Ukrainian flag into the town of Kramatorsk in the early morning after securing control of a nearby airfield from the rebels on Tuesday, prompting Russian President Vladimir Putin to warn of the risk of civil war.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
As the armored vehicles drove into Slovyansk waving Wednesday, some people waved back and shouted: "Well done lads!" and "Russia, Russia!"

A soldier guarding one of the carriers now under the control of the rebels told Reuters he was a member of Ukraine's 25th paratrooper division from Dnipropetrovsk.

"All the soldiers and the officers are here. We are all boys who won't shoot our own people," he said, adding that his men had no food for four days until local residents fed them.

A spokesman for the separatists and a witness in Kramatorsk said the Ukrainian troops had given up their vehicles to the rebels after talks.

Overhead, a Ukrainian jet fighter carried out several minutes of aerobatics above the  town's main square in a show of strength by Kyiv's forces.

The muscle-flexing and inflamed rhetoric heightened fears of violence.

The Kyiv government is seeking to reassert control slowly and without bloodshed before Thursday's Geneva meeting at which the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers are due to meet for the first time in the presence of the United States and the European Union.

Russia, which has refused to recognize Ukraine's pro-Western government since Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by mass protests in February, sought to dramatize instability in its neighbor ahead of those talks.

Photo Gallery
  • A column of combat vehicles with a Russian flag on the front one makes its way to the town of Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • A combat vehicle with gunmen on top makes its way through a checkpoint to the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • A masked gunman guards combat vehicles with Russian, Donetsk Republic and Ukrainian paratroopers, flags and gunmen on top, Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • Local residents bring flowers to place them on armored personnel carriers in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • Masked pro-Russian gunmen attack a photojournalist near combat vehicles flying a Russian flag, in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • An Orthodox icon is displayed on barricades in front of a city parliament in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • A woman cleans up trash in front of an entrance to a city administration building in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • Ukrainian servicemen look at a Ukrainian military jet fly above them while they sit on top of armored personnel carriers in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian Army helicopter flies over a column of Ukrainian Army combat vehicles on the way to the town of Kramatorsk, Ukraine, April 16, 2014.

NATO bolsters security
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels April 16, 2014.NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels April 16, 2014.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels April 16, 2014.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen holds a news conference at the Alliance's headquarters in Brussels April 16, 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says the alliance has decided on a series of immediate steps to reinforce its military footprint in eastern Europe, in response to Russia's moves.

"We will have more planes in the air, more ships on the water, and more readiness on the land," he told a news conference after the decisions were taken by NATO ambassadors.

"For example, air police and aircraft will fly more sorties over the Baltic region," he said, "allied ships will deploy to the Baltic sea, the eastern Mediterranean, and elsewhere as required."

Constant Brant, a NATO Public Affairs Officer in Brussels, said details of the deployment were still being worked out and that Allied Commander Philip Breedlove was expected to make an announcement regarding the make-up of the force in the coming days.
Putin: Ukraine on brink of civil war
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a Security Council meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, March 28, 2014.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the growing crisis in Ukraine has brought the country to the brink of civil war.
The Kremlin said Putin made the comment during a telephone call Tuesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
President Putin accused the Ukrainian government of pursuing an "anti-constitutional" path by using force against the pro-Russian demonstrators who have taken over official buildings in 10 southeastern Ukrainian towns and cities.

The Kremlin says Russian and German leaders hope Thursday's talks in Geneva will show the importance of finding a peaceful solution.

Putin is scheduled to speak on Thursday at an annual question and answer session with citizens, which could signal how far he intends to go in Ukraine.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters

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Comment Sorting
by: Chris from: N.Z
April 17, 2014 2:12 AM
That's one BIG ASK. Expecting Ukraine Forces to eject/ remove the Russian and Pro-Russian Forces,-all well-armed,-WITHOUT using force themselves!? Ridiculous! They have an impossible mission. Putin could de-escalate the whole situation,IF he so wished.But his intentions are clear. .John Kerry and anyone else who try to reason with Putin,will be working for their pay in these he denies complicity and any aggressive intent to your face while discussing ,quietly, diplomatic moves and tactical deployments to the Aide at his side.

by: Gleb from: Canada
April 16, 2014 2:36 PM
Everything posted in Western media is "True". Everything in pro-Russian media is a "Lie" and "Brainwashing". West is good, pro-Russians are "Terrorists". Get over your self NATO, it's pathetic... Stop twisting every little thing. I wish all the best to people in Ukraine.

by: Guest
April 16, 2014 2:10 PM
Fantastic Lies! It's very interesting. The division of paratroopers refused to shoot in civil people. They raised Russian flag and drived for negotiation with Force of self-defense. The girls (Ukrainian and Russian) gift flowers to soldiers. Womens applauds souldiers. Old man cries gladly about soldiers: "They over to our side!"

Indeed,. during current day 9 combat vehicles and two tanks over to side of of self-defense Force. It seems punitive operation by Kiev's fascist junta will be finished quickly by defeat. You can find in internet that German press began say about grandiose lie which CIA feded Europe and simple americans about Kiev's fascist junta.

by: meanbill from: USA
April 16, 2014 10:37 AM
IF ONLY? -- If only the US and EU would make these ultra-right-wing extremists that seized the Ukraine government, write a new constitution that the Ukrainian all people can accept, instead of forcing the US, EU, and extremists (unknown, unwritten laws) upon all Ukrainians? --- The US with the other 27 countries of NATO supporting them, speaks with a big mouth making threats, but carries a (little) stick, against the (one) single country of Russia? --- I wonder, how loud that US voice would be be, if they had to stand alone, (without those 27 other NATO countries), against Russia? --- REALLY

by: Sensi
April 16, 2014 10:11 AM
"A [Ukrainian] senior lawmaker denied any defections had taken place, instead insisting the men on the vehicles [the one pictured here with a Russian flag] were Ukrainian soldiers conducting a false-flag operation to move about freely." (USA Today, "Russian flags flying in east Ukraine; defections disputed")

Who is to be believed here? Is that a false-flag operation and a deception or not? Someone is lying, clearly... Meanwhile Radio Free Europe among others "objective" people can be seen feigning in their headline that this sole Russian flag planted on an APC in some false-flag operation is some proof of Russian involvement... Classic.

by: Popsiq from: Buganda
April 16, 2014 7:36 AM
So much for the 'appointed Ukrainian government and its 'interim' president's declaration of war and CIA-inspired 'military anti-terrorist operation. Rather than being greeted with cheers by grateful 'Eurokrainians', the army has deserted and taken the gun with him! The army has more in common with the Russians than the Poles or anybody else in NATO. But it was a good effort, much smarter than losing an election.

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