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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid