News / Europe

Ukraine Uniting Militias to Bolster Forces in East

FILE - Pro-Ukrainian activists clash with pro-Russia activist during a pro Ukraine rally in Donetsk, Ukraine.
FILE - Pro-Ukrainian activists clash with pro-Russia activist during a pro Ukraine rally in Donetsk, Ukraine.
Gabe Joselow
With the conflict in eastern Ukraine intensifying, the country's military needs new recruits more than ever. A drive to integrate guerrilla fighters into national security forces to add muscle to the escalating campaign against pro-Russian separatists.

At this training center outside Kyiv, a new battalion of the National Guard is honing its skills.

Soldiers at a firing range shoot round after round at their targets, under the watch of burly military trainers.

But these are no ordinary rookies. This is a group of battle-hardened fighters formed from a community militia that organized itself to confront separatist forces in the east.

Their commander, Semyon Semenchenko, said they are looking for additional recruits to round out the new battalion. “We are looking for men who are first of all ready to die for their motherland,” he said. “This readiness to fulfill their duty until the end is what distinguishes a soldier from the quitter who just drops his weapon and runs away,” Semenchenko stated.

The Donbas battalion formed under the leadership of Semenchenko in the last two months to confront pro-Russian rebels who have taken control of parts of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian government has been working on a campaign to recruit and integrate these semi-official squads into the National Guard.

Most of the soldiers in the battalion are residents of the east and have been on the front lines of the conflict.

One soldier, going by the code name Almaz, or “diamond,” was part of the group ambushed by separatist fighters in a now famous battle last month in Karlovka, as the battalion was trying to secure polling stations ahead of the presidential elections.

Outnumbered by more than 100 separatist fighters, he said his group of 20 was overwhelmed, with no one to call for backup.

“They started to surround us,” he said, “we were fighting, the forces were uneven, some groups had to pull back, unfortunately we didn't have any help, so we managed on our own,” Almaz said.

At least one member of the Donbas battalion was killed, with several others wounded in the fight.

For Almaz and the rest of the group, joining the National Guard offers not only training and equipment, but also the promise of stronger military backing. A lack of coordination has been a major weakness of Ukrainian forces in the east.

Meantime, Russian fighters have been seen among the separatists, though Moscow denies any direct involvement.

In the most recent of their increasingly brazen attacks, hundreds of rebels on Monday launched a major, sustained assault on a border guard post near the city of Luhansk. The daylong battle left as many as five rebels dead and 10 servicemen injured, at least four critically.

To fight the growing threat, Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko said the National Guard needs as many volunteers as it can get, and that incorporating the Donbas battalion is part of a greater effort to unite these loosely organized community militias.

“This is the third battalion of the National Guard that was a guerrilla squad before,” he said, “Now that the terrorists are more organized, and better formed, receiving weapons from Russia, they (the Ukrainian authorities) understand that we needed to be united,” said Gerachchenko.

The Ukrainian authorities have been calling on community self-defense groups that supported protests against the country's former Russian-backed president to join the fight in the east, but it is unclear how many are stepping forward.

The smoldering conflict is among the most pressing challenges facing President-elect Petro Poroshenko, who has vowed to put a quick end to the insurgency.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anderson Ngulube from: Kafue Zambia
June 04, 2014 5:46 AM
Come on men and women let us unity this world stop fight each other we are one people.

by: Igor from: Russia
June 04, 2014 5:11 AM
To me it is a stupid action, no more, no less because those in power in Kiev only seek to deepen hatred and resentment between those in the West and those in the East. Blood will be paid by blood and Ukraine will be like Iraq, Syria and Afganistan. Gerachchenko said those in the East are terrorists but he is proving himself to be a terrorist because of his terrorist actions against innocent civilians.

by: CDNborn from: Canada
June 03, 2014 10:23 PM
Well now, if that wasn't a "feel good" story to get the war drums beating I don't know what is. 100+ to 20, and they pulled it out. I can see Hollywood snapping this story up in a heartbeat.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs