News / Europe

Pro-Russia Militants Parade Captured OSCE Ukraine Monitors

Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, fourth from left, is flanked by a group of foreign military observers being held by Ponomaryov's group during a press conference in city hall, Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014.
Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, fourth from left, is flanked by a group of foreign military observers being held by Ponomaryov's group during a press conference in city hall, Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, April 27, 2014.
Pro-Russian separatists paraded before the media Sunday a team of European security observers they seized last week in Ukraine’s eastern city of Slovyansk, and talks intensified over their fate.

The separatists said they are ready to swap the group of European military observers they snatched for some of their own jailed activists. They displayed to journalists their captives – eight in total with one member, a Swede, subsequently released – saying they were not being mistreated. Still, the group appeared nervous.  

The head of the captured military mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) took care to praise his kidnappers. Germany’s Colonel Axel Schneider said none of the mission members had been harmed, and that the town’s insurgent leader, the self-declared “people’s mayor,” Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, regarded them as guests.

But the colonel added he and his colleagues were not free to go.

Several hours later, the OSCE’s deputy mission chief in Ukraine, who arrived earlier in the day, was still trying to secure the captives' release.

Ponomaryov’s spokeswoman, Stella Khorosheva, said negotiations were continuing and that the pro Russia activists were still seeking a prisoner exchange.

Khorosheva only backed away slightly from earlier insurgent claims that the captured OSCE members were spies. She said they had behaved suspiciously when seeking to access this rust belt town of 130,000 and had material and equipment that compromised them.
 
The group was seized in the flashpoint town of Slovyansk in Ukraine’s troubled east despite the fact that the OSCE is tasked to help implement peace steps agreed to in the Geneva accord signed more than a week ago by top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.
 
The United States and European governments have condemned the group’s seizure. Moscow has said it is ready to help secure their release but has not denounced the separatist action.
 
Earlier, three captured Ukrainian security service officers also were displayed in Slovyansk to journalists. Bloodied and blindfolded, they had been stripped to their underpants.
 
The capture of the OSCE team appears to have slowed the progress of a campaign by the Ukrainian military to contain the separatists, who Kyiv authorities and many in West believe have Moscow’s backing.
 
Several separatist checkpoints beyond Slovyansk and the neighboring town of Kramatorsk that had been cleared by Ukrainian government forces last week were back Sunday in the hands of the insurgents.
 
A group of eight masked and well-equipped separatists were stopping cars on a road leading to Kramatorsk’s small airport, which is being used as a base by Ukrainian Special Forces units.
 
They snatched a young couple who had just delivered food for the soldiers at the base, claiming they were “bandits.”

Their leader, who declined to give his name, said the pro-Russian insurgents are protecting ethnic Russians in Ukraine. He says the February ouster of Russia-friendly president Viktor Yanukovych that triggered the Ukraine crisis was a crime against the Ukrainian people.

Watch related video by VOA's Michael Bowman:
 
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The United States and its G-7 partners are imposing new sanctions against Russia. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, existing sanctions have not altered Moscow’s posture towards Ukraine, with Russian forces still massed along its borders and a promised truce in eastern Ukraine yet to materialize.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jim from: Italy
April 28, 2014 5:38 AM
These observers were not seized without the directions coming from Putin. These "pro-Russian" patriots wouldn't belch without his permission.


by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 28, 2014 3:28 AM
The US needs to act to show Russia that she rules. As for China, China is a piece bread for the US. let China try to defeat Japan first, before thinking of the US. China have been trying to defeat Taiwan for the longest, and still she cannot do that. China just had her first aircraft carrier last year, Make no mistake, China is no match for the US. As for Russia, the US get something for her. Beside that nuclear weapon that Russia has, what can she do to the US? nothing.and let us be very clear here, if Russia fire nuclear weapon into the US, so help us all God. The world read in history there was a country call Russia. Because there will be no Russia. Cuz the US will turn Russia into graveyard. Mr. Putin is bluffing, because he knows Mr. Obama has diplomatic policy.What I realized about Mr. Obama, everybody is different. I respect the man, cuz this how he handle things, But had it been President Bush, Mr. Putin nothing would have stop this nonsense long time ago. As we speak, there is no military in this world that can withstand the US fire power, you crazy? or Mr. Putin thinks he will fire nuclear weapon into the US and we just sit there, and do nothing? He must be crazy, but he is not crazy enough. He preys on weaker countries. But we the citizen of America stand with our president, we must end this Putin aggression. God Bless America


by: Igor
April 27, 2014 10:07 PM
Ukraine use the russian gas and do not pay , fraud.
What will be if I stop to pay for gas.

In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
April 29, 2014 12:28 AM
The US does not want Russia gas? We have our own Gas. The US has the higher gas export in the world. The US has gas reserved for her and other countries. America doesn't need gas from the Middle East either. search this record, secondly, all the Russians in Ukraine need to go back to Russia. let them leave the people alone. If Mr. Putin wants to build his empire,let him do it in Russia. He needs to take those Russian Citizens that he wants to protect to Russia and leave Ukraine alone. Mr. Putin is criminal minded, He needs to be brought to justice.


by: joe from: us
April 27, 2014 1:14 PM
but united states as champion of the free world can't allow russia to take advantage of other countries and china it ll be in the hole if it wasnt for united states and europe that made china rich so china needs of the money of the other rich countries other wise itll be an agricultural society like it was in the 1970's


by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
April 27, 2014 9:58 AM
The most serious stragic mistake Obama has made was that America has created two enormous enemies(China and Russia) in the same time from east to west.The better diplomatic decision should be made that Obama should postpone his Asian trip( to Japan,Korea,Malaysia,Philippines)to the latter half of the year.Can not push China into Russian’ hug.Because now more strategic resources are need for Obama to confront Putin in Ukraine immediately.But the fact is that his Asian trip opening a new threatre of war.China was provocated.Putin will have a formal visit to China nest month.China now is embattling in the West Pacific Ocean. China’ marine surveillance ships have been cruising around the Diayu Island(Japan also claims) and South China Sea thick and fast since Obama had speech in Japan.
With the escalating emergency crisis in Ukraine,the US and EU almost can do nothing effective unless the void sanctions,talks,and sended small fleets to the Black Sea,it is look like hustle and bustle,nonetheless Russia will not be daunted and cowered,because Putin know that it is swashbuckling for what US and EU have done.It is lack of the strategic resources for US to support the new interim government of Ukraine.

In Response

by: anton from: poland
April 27, 2014 1:18 PM
your word salad aside, I am not sure you lend your position credibility by saying the US and EU lack resources. I am OK with Russian and Chinese partisans underestimating the power of the west and it's people, yet again.

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