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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid