News / Europe

    Ukraine Reinstates Conscription as Security Deteriorates in Eastern Region

    After storming the prosecutor's office, pro-Russia activists stand guard with officers' shields at the entrance in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 1, 2014.
    After storming the prosecutor's office, pro-Russia activists stand guard with officers' shields at the entrance in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 1, 2014.
    VOA News
    Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov has reinstated military conscription to deal with deteriorating security in the east of the country.

    Turchynov signed the decree on Thursday, the same day pro-Russian militants seized the regional prosecutor’s office in the eastern city of Donetsk.
     
    The decree reinstates the draft for non-exempt Ukrainian men between 18 and 25 years old and cites what it describes as "the further aggravation of the socio-politcal situation" in eastern and southern Ukraine, as well as "blatant aggression" by "illegal" armed pro-Russian groups.

    The move comes a day after Turchynov said that his government was "helpless" to quell the growing pro-Russian separatist movement in two eastern regions and could not control its own troops.

    Earlier Thursday, pro-Russian protesters stormed the prosecutor's office in the separatist-held city of Donetsk, lobbing stones and smashing windows after accusing the office of working for the Western-backed government in Kyiv.

    To shouts of "Fascists", a refrain Moscow uses to describe Ukraine's new government, hundreds of people pelted the police with paving stones and then cornered some, dragging them to the ground and beating them. The police soon surrendered.

    Donetsk, a city of about one million people in Ukraine's industrial east, is at the center of an armed uprising across the steel and coal belt by mainly Russian-speakers threatening to secede from Ukraine.

    The violence, in a city already largely under the control of separatists, underscored the shifting security situation and suspicions in the region.

    "The prosecutor's office was issuing criminal orders from Kyiv against its own people, charging them with separatism and other fake crimes," said one protester, a 43-year-old man from Donetsk who gave his name as Igor.

    Pro-Russian separatists in the city have declared a "People's Republic of Donetsk" and say they will hold a referendum on secession on May 11.

    Related video report by Arash Arabasadi and Brian Padden:
     
    Separatists Hold Ukrainian Cities; Local Defense in Kyiv Stands Firmi
    X
    Brian Padden, Arash Arabasadi
    May 01, 2014 8:39 PM
    In eastern Ukraine, separatists continue to seize and occupy government buildings, while in Kyiv, the capital, protesters continue their occupation of Maidan Square. Despite an agreement made in Geneva requiring all groups to disarm, there's no end in sight to the standoff. Arash Arabasasdi reports from Kyiv.

    Russian attache detained for spying

    Ukraine also ordered the expulsion of Russia's military attache, saying it had caught him ``red-handed'' receiving classified information on the country's cooperation with NATO during an armed uprising Kyiv said is directed from Moscow.
     
    The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday the diplomat, who has not been named, had been detained a day earlier and declared persona non grata.

    Ukraine's security service said he was a Russian intelligence officer who had been collecting intelligence on ``Ukrainian-NATO military and political cooperation.”

    There was no immediate response from Moscow, which, like Kyiv, was observing the May 1 holiday.

    The crisis in Ukraine will dominate talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Barack Obama in Washington on Friday, with both leaders keen to show the West is united in its resolve to take even tougher measures against Russia if necessary.
     
    The U.S. and European Union both imposed new sanctions against Moscow on Monday, accusing Russia of failing to implement a diplomatic accord aimed at calming the situation in Ukraine.
     
    Merkel and Obama will discuss at what point further measures - targeting the Russian economy directly - could be taken, senior German officials said.
     
     
    Members of Russian Trade Unions march during the May Day celebration at the Red Square in Moscow on May 1, 2014.Members of Russian Trade Unions march during the May Day celebration at the Red Square in Moscow on May 1, 2014.
    x
    Members of Russian Trade Unions march during the May Day celebration at the Red Square in Moscow on May 1, 2014.
    Members of Russian Trade Unions march during the May Day celebration at the Red Square in Moscow on May 1, 2014.
    Russia's May Day Parade

    Russia staged a huge May Day parade on Moscow's Red Square for the first time since the Soviet era on Thursday, with workers holding banners proclaiming support for President Vladimir Putin after the seizure of territory from neighboring Ukraine.
     
    Thousands of trade unionists marched with Russian flags and flags of Putin's ruling United Russia party onto the giant square beneath the Kremlin walls, past the red granite mausoleum of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin. About 100,000 people took part in the celebration.

    Many banners displayed traditional slogans for the annual workers' holiday, such as ``Peace, Labour, May.'

    But others were more directly political, alluding to the crisis in neighboring former Soviet republic Ukraine, where Russian troops annexed the Crimea peninsula in March, precipitating the biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.

    Putin wants troops out of southeast
     
    Also Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Merkel that the withdrawal of Ukrainian military units from the southeast of the country, ending violence and launching a national dialogue are key issues in the Ukraine conflict, the Kremlin said.

    The Kremlin also said that Merkel, in a call it said she initiated, asked Putin to help free seven Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) military observers who are being held by pro-Russian militia in Ukraine.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also called for talks between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine.

    "Russia believes that this dialogue between the authorities in Kyiv and their opponents could be established, or launched in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. We hope that our partners, our Western colleagues allow Ukrainians to establish this dialogue without major impediment," Lavrov said.

    The prime minister spoke during a visit to Peru.

    Thomas Graham, an expert on Russian and Eurasian affairs, said the situation in east Ukraine is difficult to decipher.
     
    "The problem that we have at this point is that everyone thinks someone else controls the situation on the ground,” said Graham, a former U.S. national security official who is managing director at Kissinger Associates Inc.
     
    “And the crisis has moved along far enough that there are a lot of elements on the ground that are acting on their own, without reference necessarily to Moscow, Kyiv, Brussels or Washington,” he said.

    “So, the risk of the incidence that leads to widespread violence -- perhaps bloodshed -- can force the hands of people who have postured themselves in ways that they might regret depending on how things play out on the ground in eastern Ukraine."

    IMF loan has tough requirements

    The director of the IMF's European department, Reza Moghadam, told reporters Thursday that the Washington-based agency expects Ukraine to meet all its financial obligations, even as it teeters on the brink of bankruptcy. That includes $2.2 billion it owes Russia for natural gas purchases.

    The IMF announced a $17 billion loan package for Ukraine over the next two years, and the World Bank, the European Union, Japan , Canada and the United States have pledged another $15 billion. The loans come with a requirement that Kyiv undertake economic reforms, including tax hikes, wage freezes and cuts in social aid.

    But Moghadam acknowledged that the $17 billion IMF loan is not as big as it appears. He said $5 billion of the figure is meant for Ukraine to pay back money it already owes the IMF from a previous loan.

    VOA's Catherine Maddux contributed to this report from Washington. Some information for this report provided by RFE/RL, Reuters, AP

    Photo Gallery: Images from Ukraine
    • Pro-Russia protesters storm the governor's business premises in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Pro-Russia protesters storm the governor's business premises in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian protesters gather to honor fallen comrades during fighting with pro-Ukrainian activists in Odessa on Friday, at the barricades in front of the administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Russia's presidential human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin watches as foreign military observers hug each other following their release in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • Smoke billows from burning tires at a pro-Russian checkpoint with a Donetsk republic flag following an attack by Ukrainian troops in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, May 3, 2014.
    • A protester walks past a burning pro-Russian tent camp near the trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • An injured pro-Russian activist looks on during clashes with supporters of the Kyiv government in the streets of Odessa, Ukriane, May 2, 2014.
    • People wait to be rescued on upper levels of a trade union building in Odessa, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint as tires burn in front of him, near the town of Slovyansk, Ukraine, May 2, 2014.
    • Pro-Russian gunmen listen to instructions from their commander (center) behind barricades in Slovyansk, May 2, 2014.
    • A pro-Russian rebel aims his rifle at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, May 2, 2014.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
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    by: Peacr from: los angeles
    May 02, 2014 10:27 AM
    Putin is playing it bold rather than smart. He knows no one can stand up to him. He is taking the advantage the lack of tough leadership in the US and the influence of his oil power in Europe

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    May 02, 2014 4:20 AM
    This what Mr. Putin has done, He played very smart. He mixed the civilians with the military to destabilized Ukraine, in a sense that the Ukrainian Government cannot fight back, Their hands are tied to the civilians.
    If they react to this uprising, the world will say they are killing the civilians,Mr. Putin will also say that too. it will give him more reason to fight the Ukrainian military. The Man is playing smart here. watch all the video, the Ukrainian military will not fire at these people, they will be killing more civilians.
    How can they Ukrainian military contain such a tactics, they can't. so Mr. Putin will take all of Ukraine slowly. Mr. Putin will take all of Ukraine without a fight. The ICC and the UN need to intervene. They have to create a buffer zone between both party. The russians need to go back home to their country.

    by: Jay Garsby from: Minnesota
    May 02, 2014 1:42 AM
    Not buying this crap, these are Ukrainians and Russians fighting against American propped up regime

    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    May 02, 2014 1:00 AM
    I dont know what to say, But the Ukrainian Government is not doing enough. the Ukrainian President and Prime Minister just took an oath to defend their Country in the time of war, what is this Putin nonsense we are seeing? The Ukrainian Government needs to put up some resistance. what are they doing? They cannot defend their sovereignty? Than there were to need for them to annex from Russia.What kind of mess is this? and what wrong with the ICC? This is too much, enough is enough. Mr. Putin needs to be stop.

    by: gen from: Japan
    May 01, 2014 11:25 PM
    Turchynov has reinstated military conscription to deal with deteriorating security in the east of the country.
    I don't believe this.The Ukraine government is facists government.
    lots of drafted novice only die at war.
    This is a humane shield by the ukraine government in kiev. This is blamed on US and EU if these people died.

    by: Mrs. Carla Mealvomit from: UK
    May 01, 2014 9:37 PM
    Thus, despite the best efforts of the West’s media and politicians to claim the Nazi militants they used to overrun Kiev are creations of Russian propaganda, the truth exists in plain sight. The inability of the West to check Russia’s counterstrokes in Crimea and eastern Ukraine is precisely due to the fact that neither the people of the East nor the West believe what Washington, London, or Brussels are saying.

    NATO, Nazis, and the “Expansion of Europe”

    So what is NATO doing with Nazi militants in Ukraine? The same thing Adolf Hitler was doing – establishing “breathing room.” While the West attempts publicly to portray the crisis in Ukraine as Europe reacting to Russian aggression, behind semi-closed doors they are very open about their agenda in Ukraine and elsewhere along Russia’s peripheries – it is and always was about the expansion of Europe and the containment of Russia.

    Recently the corporate-funded NATO think tank, the Atlantic Council, celebrated what it called, “anniversaries of crucial importance to the transatlantic community, including the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 15th anniversary of NATO’s first post-Cold War enlargement, and the 10th anniversary of the “big bang” enlargements of both the European Union and NATO.” These “enlargements” all took place after the fall of the Cold War – in other words, after NATO’s mandate for existing expired. Yet the alliance continued to grow, and not only did it grow, in tandem with the European Union, it did so directly toward Moscow’s doorstep with every intention of eventually absorbing Russia as well.

    In fact, many of the same organizations standing behind the unelected regime in Kiev, have been directing unrest within Russia as well. And in turn, Russian opposition leaders backed by Western-cash and diplomatic support have vocally supported the regime in Kiev.

    In reality, what we have witnessed over the past several months is not “Russian aggression,” but the premeditated destabilization and overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine, and a resulting, and continuously escalating confrontation with Russia as Moscow reacts to the reappearance of Nazis along its borders, backed by NATO and the EU.

    by: Fish from: Pacific NW
    May 01, 2014 9:13 PM
    This is brilliant. Now all the young male separatists have to join the Ukraine Army. Genius!!

    by: Y Lim from: USA
    May 01, 2014 1:39 PM
    The current Ukraine government should be blamed. The showed the world a bad example: how to take over government. Now Pro-Russian protesters will learn it from them.

    by: jethromayham from: vietnam
    May 01, 2014 1:16 PM
    Czar Putin needs to face real sanctions. Why in the world does Obama's advospr think saving quivers is doing any good. The Czar only will react when he hs to answer to the Russian people. It is the Russian people that must say 'OUCH!'

    by: John from: Houston, TX
    May 01, 2014 12:32 PM
    And THIS is the answer to: "What happens if a country has a War and nobody comes?". Very, very sad for Ukraine & other countries with Russian speaking minorities in them. Also, for the Russians themselves.
    Comments page of 2
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