News / Europe

Ukrainian Forces Clash With Pro-Russia Militants

  • A Ukrainian police officer stands guard at a checkpoint that was attacked by unknown men outside the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, April 25, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian armed man smokes as he guards near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 25, 2014.
  • A Ukrainian soldier sits atop of his armored vehicle at a check point near the village of Artemiovska, near Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
  • Ukrainian security force officers are deployed at a checkpoint set on fire and left by pro-Russian separatists near Slovyansk, April 24, 2014.
  • A Pro-Russian supporter walks at the seized office of the SBU state security service in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
  • Municipal workers take a break from taking down barricades in central Kyiv, April 23, 2014.
  • Members of Maidan self-defense forces march along the street in central Kyiv, April 23, 2014.
  • Ukrainian presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko speaks during a briefing in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine April 24, 2014.
  • People carry the coffin of local politician Volodymyr Rybak, allegedly tortured and killed by pro-Russia separatists, during his funeral in the village of Horlivka, in eastern Ukraine, April 24, 2014.
  • People carry coffins containing the bodies of men killed in a gunfight on April 20, during a funeral ceremony in Slovyansk, April 22, 2014.
  • A pro-Russian armed man stands guard outside a regional government building seized by the pro-Russians, in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, April 22, 2014.
VOA News
Fighting between Ukrainian security forces and pro-Russia militants in eastern Ukraine has left at least five militants dead, with Russian President Vladimir Putin calling it a "crime" and threatening “consequences.”
Ukraine's Interior Ministry said Thursday that its forces, together with army units, had killed five pro-Russia militants and destroyed three of their checkpoints in the eastern city of Slovyansk.

Separately, Ukrainian officials said that police had driven pro-Russia separatists out of the city hall in the eastern city of Mariupol, and that an attack by armed separatists on an army base in the town of Artemivsk had been repelled.

The operations have been temporarily halted in response to signs Russia started military exercises across the border.

Watch related video report by VOA's Brian Padden in Donetsk, Ukraine
Military Clashes With Separatists Heighten Tensions in Eastern Ukrainei
Brian Padden
April 24, 2014 7:14 PM
Tensions have increased in Eastern Ukraine as Ukrainian forces attacked pro-Russian insurgents in the city of Slovyansk. VOA's Brian Padden reports that separatist groups in some towns now are bracing for an attack while others have dismantled barricades to avoid any military confrontation.

Kyiv earlier this week relaunched an "anti-terrorist" operation against armed pro-Russians who have taken over government buildings in about a dozen eastern cities and towns. Some of the separatists are demanding the right to vote on whether to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Ukraine’s government, along with the U.S. and others in the West, sees an undercover campaign by Russia aimed at creating a pretext for possible incursion followed by a Crimea-style annexation of some regions.

Under an international accord signed in Geneva last week, illegal armed groups, including the militants occupying about a dozen public buildings in Ukraine's largely Russian-speaking east, were supposed to disarm and disband.
Russia recalls ambassador starts drills

At the United Nations, diplomats say Russia has recalled its ambassador to Moscow for emergency consultations.

Word of the recall came a short while after Moscow accused the Kyiv government of deploying military units and ultra-nationalist paramilitary units against the largely Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine.  A Foreign Ministry statement referred to Ukrainian authorities as "under the patronage of the United States."  It also said the situation demands "urgent action" by Washington to ensure the withdrawal of Ukrainian forces from the region.

Russia started military drills near the border with Ukraine on Thursday in an apparent response to operations by Ukrainian forces against pro-Russia separatists and NATO exercises in eastern Europe, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying.

“If this military machine is not stopped, it will lead to greater numbers of dead and wounded. Planned exercises by NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic countries do not foster normalization of the situation surrounding Ukraine either.... We are forced to react to such a development…,” the Interfax news agency quoted Shoigu as saying.

The minister said that starting on Thursday, battalions of tactical groups would begin exercises in regions of Russia bordering Ukraine. According to Shoigu, the drill will also involve the air force.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon says it has noticed Russian troop movement along Ukraine's border but added that it was "too soon to tell exactly what it is," according to a U.S. Defense Department spokesman.

Ukraine has asked Moscow, under OSCE security arrangements, to explain and give details of its military exercises near the border within 48 hours, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday. 

Obama warns of new sanctions

Earlier, U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking to reporters Thursday in Tokyo, Japan, accused Russia is not abiding by the Geneva agreement to ease the crisis in Ukraine, saying he is not hopeful Moscow will cooperate.
He said Russia has chosen not to take the "wise path" and faces stronger sanctions, adding that Ukraine has been taking the concrete steps agreed to last week in Geneva, including offering amnesty to pro-Russian separatists who leave the buildings peacefully.

Obama said new sanctions are “teed up” but did not specify when they could be applied, saying only that it was a matter of days, not weeks.

So far, the United States and EU have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on a number of Russians in response to Moscow's annexation last month of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Russia reacts

In St. Petersburg, President Putin said that if the authorities in Kyiv have in fact begun using the army in eastern Ukraine, then they are committing "a very serious crime against their own people."
“It is just a punitive operation and it will, of course, incur consequences for the people making these decisions, including [an effect] on our interstate relations,” Putin said Thursday in a televised meeting with regional media.

The developments also put into question the legitimacy of presidental elections in Ukraine scheduled for May 25, Reuters quotes Putin as saying through his spokesman.

Russia says Washington “must force the current Ukrainian leadership to immediately stop military operation in southeastern Ukraine” and withdraw forces – a Foreign Ministry statement says.
Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Thursday accused the United States of trying to orchestrate a "color revolution" in Ukraine. He said Washington is using Ukraine as a pawn in a geopolitical game.
Lavrov said the West is acting like winners of the Cold War and do not consider Russia's interests when drawing up European policies.
Moscow also flexed its economic muscles in its worst stand-off with the West since the Cold War, with the government suggesting foreign firms which pull out of the country may not be able to get back in, and a source at Gazprom saying the gas exporter had slapped an additional $11.4 billion bill on Kyiv. That is in addition to the $2.2 billion Gazprom says Kyiv already owes.

IMF to meet on Ukraine

The International Monetary Fund said on Thursday that its board would meet on April 30 to consider an aid package for Ukraine, saying that Kyiv had supplied the needed documents for it to determine whether conditions for a bailout had been met.

The IMF tentatively agreed in late March to provide a $14-18 billion two-year bailout to help Ukraine recover from months of political and economic turmoil. The IMF board has yet to approve that package.

The IMF's aid to Ukraine is expected to unlock additional international assistance of about $15 billion over the same two-year period for the nation.

The IMF board will make a final decision on the amount of aid to be released to Ukraine when it meets next week.

US reporter released

American journalist Simon Ostrovsky has been released in eastern Ukraine, said online news site Vice News, for whom he was working in the city of Slovyansk when he was held by pro-Russia separatists on Monday.

“Vice News is delighted to confirm that our colleague and friend Simon Ostrovsky has been safely released and is in good health,” read a statement on its Web site on Thursday.

No information was immediately available from the separatists, who have said they hold several people.

Some reporting by Reuters

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Comment Sorting
by: Anthony from: San diego
April 25, 2014 1:39 AM
this is not Geneva and I see no convention

by: anonymous from: anonymous
April 24, 2014 8:21 PM
Putin needs to stop his games he accuses the u.s. of trying to control Ukraine when the only reason he wants Ukraine to adopt a federalist government is to annex sections of the country by holding false referendums or making the regions autonomous and be a pupeteer

by: Anonymous
April 24, 2014 4:46 PM
Rumors say, that it is a historically proven crime to use country's regular military against its own citizens... Yanukovich being a democratically elected and thereby legitimate president of Ukraine did not use military to put down protesters in Kiev only because he knew that every and each dictator (Miloshevich, Hussein, Kaddafi among others) became a victim of this very tempting move...
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
April 24, 2014 7:49 PM
ALL those you name, were considered enemies of the US, EU, and NATO, weren't they? -- NO leader of the US, EU, and NATO, (or those they supported), has ever been charged with war crimes, or crimes against humanity, have they? -- Only Russia and sometimes China, prevents the US, EU, and NATO countries, from completely controlling the UN....
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 24, 2014 5:04 PM
Anyone occupying government buildings with weapons should not be considered civilians whatsoever. Peace and Government decisions are signed with paper and pen, not bullets and blood. If these people suddenly occupy government buildings with weapons they should be deemed terrorists of the state. Democracy is a wonderful thing however you do not become democratic by waving your guns and taking over government buildings. The government of Ukraine must take these buildings and take responsibility for Ukraine and the people. Anyone wanting to disrupt the regular business of the Ukraine Government are going down the completely wrong road. It is Russias business to tell those people in the government buildings with guns that Putin DOES NOT support them. If Putin does not announce he doesn't support them, then he is guilty of aiding these criminals and regardless of the outcome they must face Ukrainian Federal Laws.

Any disruption by Russia would constitute war crimes by the order of "Vladimir Putin". Whom is guilty of crimes already in Chechnya, Moscow Theatre Siege, Georgia, Syria, and Crimea. (Likely many more too within Russia). Time for the world to oust leaders who act like Putin, for their own countries future. As well as time for the world to stand united and strong against such criminals.

by: Anonymous
April 24, 2014 2:16 PM
Russia must abide by its own laws in its OWN country. What happens in Ukraine is under Ukrainian laws. Those who do not abide by Ukrainian Laws (Like carrying weapons in government buildings) should be penalized to 10/10ths of the law. Those who occupy government buildings with weapons are definitely not abiding by the law. It is 100% NOT Russias business to enforce Ukrainian laws, nor break them. Russia should be telling those people to put down their weapons and stop harassing Ukraine. If those Pro-Russians do not like Ukraine laws they should move to another country.

Ukraine is 100% in the right to storm these buildings. Russia is 100% in the wrong to get involved whatsoever. No different than USA going in to Russia to help Chechnya or any other population within Russian borders.

Russia deserves its gas supply to be cut off entirely for their stupid aggression and illegal activities. The world needs to send mr. "Putin" the strongest message of all. The Russian people should OUST Putin from power because he is NOT for the people of Russia. Any leader that gambles their future economy over stuff so stupid is not a good leader whatsoever.

If the Russian people can oust these idiots managing their country , Russia and the world would be a better place.

Lets hold Putin responsible for ALL his crimes, in Chechnya, Georgia, Moscow theatre siege, Syria, Crimea and more... There needs to be a warrant out for Putin's arrest by the ICC. We can not be afraid to put a warrant out for his arrest. PERIOD.

This would send a strong message to Russian population just what kind of guy is running the country of Russia, and it will not be tolerated by the international community. It would also send a strong message to the world not to commit these crimes in the future.

by: michael from: Nigeria
April 24, 2014 9:27 AM
Russian government must address his own country and live alone a sovereign nation to build there future. There is an adage in nigeria that says a white hen does not regard herself as an elder:

by: murat demirkan from: turkey
April 24, 2014 8:13 AM
I though America was lion, after Russia did about georgia and ukranie I recognized that America is lion that made of paper.
In Response

by: GrrenLine from: United States
April 24, 2014 1:16 PM
And we know that Turkey can't even compare to America.

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