News / Europe

Ukraine Admits It's Losing Control in East

  • 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.
Latest images from Ukraine
VOA News
Ukraine’s acting president says that the Kyiv government has effectively lost control over the situation in the country’s eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions where a number of government buildings have been taken over by pro-Russia separatists.

Oleksandr Turchynov says that Russia is now eyeing six more regions in the country’s east and south. A takeover by Russia of two such regions, if it were to take full control of Donetsk, would secure Russia’s land connection with Crimea, which it annexed last month.

The takeover of two more regions along the Black Sea coast would connect Russian mainland with Moldova’s Russian-speaking Transdniestria enclave.

Speaking Wednesday at a meeting of regional leaders in Kyiv, Turchynov operatives have received instructions from Moscow to destabilize, via "acts of sabotage," the regions of Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Zaporizhzha, Mykolayiv and Odesa.

Kyiv says that many such operatives have received training and are being financed by Russia, a charge Moscow denies.

On full alert

Bracing for a possible invasion by Russian troops massed on the border, Turchynov says Ukraine’s military has been put "on full combat alert."

Speaking at a ministerial meeting in Kyiv on Wednesday, he said there was a real threat of Russia starting a war against Ukraine's mainland.
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of armored personnel carriers at a check point near the village of Malynivka, southeast of Slovyansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of armored personnel carriers at a check point near the village of Malynivka, southeast of Slovyansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of armored personnel carriers at a check point near the village of Malynivka, southeast of Slovyansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014
A Ukrainian soldier stands guard in front of armored personnel carriers at a check point near the village of Malynivka, southeast of Slovyansk, in eastern Ukraine, April 29, 2014

Moscow, meanwhile, has voiced concern over Turchynov’s statement, criticizing it as “militaristic.”

“We insist that Kyiv immediately cease its militaristic rhetoric aimed at intimidating its own population,” said a Foreign Ministry statement calling on Ukrainian authorities to start a dialogue toward national reconciliation instead.

The criticism comes as pro-Russian gunmen seized yet another administrative building in eastern Ukraine. Armed insurgents took control of the local council building in Horlivka early Wednesday, a town of more than 260,000 people. Police say the pro-Russian rebels have also overtaken the town’s regional police department.
Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists overran more Ukrainian government buildings near the Russian border earlier this week, taking control of several in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The pro-Moscow rebels in Donetsk have set a referendum on secession for May 11. A similar vote last month led to Russia's annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

Possible reshuffle

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk threatened his government on Wednesday with a reshuffle if it failed to meet the demands of the people, venting frustration with Kyiv's failure to restore law and order in the country's east.

Some critics say the central government has become all but paralyzed by infighting.

“The country demands action and results. If there is such action and results that means the government is doing its job,” Yatsenyuk told a government meeting.

“If in the near future such action and results fail to materialize, that means there will be personnel changes,” said Yatsenyuk.

He said ministers would also pass to parliament a law on conducting a nationwide poll on Ukrainian unity and territorial integrity, “those issues which concern Ukraine today,” on May 25 when Ukraine is due to hold a presidential election.

Recruiting agents

To bolster its claims that unrest in Ukraine is being fomented by Russia, Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) today released a video it says proves that Moscow is actively recruiting agents from among Ukrainian citizens.

The video purports to show “citizen K.” who says he was recruited by Russian intelligence during a trip to the Crimea region earlier this month.

According to “citizen K.”, recruits are paid a daily stipend of 100 hryvnias (approximately $10) for collaborating with Russian agents, with those having military experience receiving several times that amount.

Although officially released by the SBU on its YouTube channel, the video’s authenticity could not be independently confirmed.

OSCE monitors

Meanwhile, negotiations resumed to gain the release of seven European observers taken hostage last week in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk.

Its self-proclaimed pro-Russian mayor said Tuesday he would be willing to swap the observers for pro-Russian activists held by Ukrainian authorities.

The monitors - four Germans, a Pole, a Dane and a Swede - had been sent to Ukraine by the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday called on Russia "to leave Ukraine in peace." In a speech at the non-governmental Atlantic Council, Kerry blamed Russia for the current crisis in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of  attempting to change the security landscape in eastern and central Europe.

Russia has denied direct involvement in Ukraine.

Calls for stronger sanctions
In Washington Wednesday, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Bob Corker, called for stronger sanctions against Russia. 

He proposed sanctions on Russia's banking and energy sectors that would “actually do something that affects the Russian economy to the extent that they pull troops away from the Ukrainian border and remove operators inside Ukraine."

He said current sanctions on Russia are inadequate.
Corker added that the U.S. has not yet demonstrated that it is willing to use sanctions in a way that would force a change in Russia’s behavior.
Meanwhile, Russia will not take any immediate retaliatory measures following Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis but could reassess that stance in the future, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

“We are not going to act, to do stupid things ... we want to give our partners the possibility of calming down,” Lavrov said at a news conference during a visit to Chile.

However, he said Moscow could change its position depending on whether sanctions, which he said "defy all common sense'' are prolonged or deepened.

Costs to Russia

There are further signs that Russia is paying an economic price for its involvement in Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund said international sanctions imposed on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine were hurting the economy.
The IMF cut its 2014 growth forecast for Russia to 0.2 percent from 1.3 percent and forecast capital outflows of $100 billion this year.
The IMF mission chief to Russia, Antonio Spilimbergo, also told reporters that Russia was “experiencing recession” and that a resolution of the Ukraine crisis would significantly reduce Russia's own economic uncertainties.
Ukraine is also suffering from the turmoil, with economic output falling 1.1 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2014, according to government figures released on Wednesday. Gazprom said Ukraine's unpaid bill for gas supplied by the Russian energy giant was now $3.5 billion.
However, the European Union said it was ready to provide economic aid to Ukraine along with the IMF.

Some reporting by Reuters

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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Anonymous
April 30, 2014 7:25 PM
Western estimates say the Russian Defense Ministry has between 800,000 and one million men under arms. These include strategic rocket forces as well as the various uniformed services: air, air defense, ground and naval. And there are various kinds of special forces, such as the Spetsnaz belonging to Russia’s military intelligence or GRU.

by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
April 30, 2014 5:51 PM
Ukraine does not deserve nationhood, when their police and the soldiers are passive to confront the Russian infiltrators and the Russian occupation of Crimea and eastern Ukraine? Are they waiting for help from the U.S., EU and NATO to defend Ukraine? Ukraine does not deserve any help, unless they help themselves trying to defend their country. Not a single soldier from the US will be sacrificed for Crimea or Ukraine as long as the Ukrainians and the EU are just spectators to the Russian onslaught. Good Bye Ukraine,
In Response

by: Joe Biernacki from: Houston, TX
May 01, 2014 12:09 PM
The Russians are not dumb as they have mixed their military forces in civilian clothes with local civilians. Some of the locals are rabid pro Russians. The Ukrainian Military has bent over backwards not to cause casualties among the civilian population. In doing so they have been accused of being weak and irresolute, especially by foreign critics.
In Response

by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
May 01, 2014 5:00 AM
Davis you are right, unless Ukraine stands to confront Russia, they will loose their whole Country. The Ukrainian military are under estimating themselves, They have almost the same weapons Russia has. What Russia can do them? nothing. Russia failed to defeat the taliban, Russia couldn't even defeat Georgia, They need to try to stand up to Russia aggression. NATO and the EU just talking and Mr. Putin taking them for a joke. they need to act, there are some thing that diplomacy cannot solved, in such a case, Mr. Putin needs to be confronted with strong resistance.Enough is real enough. I dont care how much men Russia has, we are talking about war, this is a different ball game here.

by: batobantelis
April 30, 2014 12:46 PM
{The video purports to show “citizen K.” who says he was recruited by Russian intelligence during a trip to the Crimea region earlier this month. According to “citizen K.”, recruits are paid a daily stipend of 100 hryvnias (approximately $10) for collaborating with Russian agents, with those having military experience receiving several times that amount.}

I do not know what legalities can do to save the Ukrainian east from Russians unless they start the fighting the rebels with the combination of civilian volunteer militias and Ukrainian government forces... But I understand the delay!...We have to wait when everything is ready!...

by: Flojd
April 30, 2014 12:09 PM
And who supported and trained him in his takeover of democratically elected Ukrainian government? How quickly are we led to forget Kiev on fire and police officers dragged trough the streets.

by: Pat McClung from: Alameda, Ca
April 30, 2014 11:55 AM
Eastern Ukraine will remain peaceful as long as the federationist forces control it. If the western Ukraine right-wing forces attack them, and cause significant bloodshed, Russia will retaliate to protect the population. Interesting stand-off.

by: Al Rex from: USA
April 30, 2014 11:51 AM
This is what will happen in the United States but with a different twist along racial lines.
In Response

by: mark rich from: dallas
April 30, 2014 2:26 PM
#1 - Your comment is non pertinent to the conversation.
#2 - You're dreaming.

by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
April 30, 2014 11:42 AM

The interim government rulers in Kiev miscalculated the Western support - especially after European parliamentarians joined the anti-Yanukovich protests. They thought the Western strong support included a threat of war against Russia - if Russia had meddled in their plan to take Ukraine into the EU and Nato. They understand their predicament now as the Western sanctions to "change Putin's calculus," as Obama stated it, isn't working, and Russia considers them "criminals!"

Worse yet for them, instead of changing course early and saving the situation, they called the Eastern Pro-Russian protesters "terrorists," and accused Russia of want a W W III? The verdict? They pushed themselves too far and too fast to the West, and when opposition to their plan created turmoil they used insults and terrorism epithets to turn the tide - instead of slowing down and reassure Russia Ukraine would remain politically where it is. That has been political amateurism that has come back to haunt them now. They missed the warning of the adage: "Be careful what you wish; you might get it!" Their wish was fulfilled, but it was inside a Pandora's Box, and the lid is now gone! Nikos Retsos, retired professor
In Response

by: mark from: richardson
April 30, 2014 2:40 PM
I'd have to say this is shooting pretty much on target. Russia couldn't ignore the strife going on there since it has so much vested interest in the region. I don't think Putin has been looking for a reason to snatch Crimea up as much as it's been forced to out of prudence given the overthrow and uncertainty over the new govt. there. Now that the cauldron has been spilled, he may be thinking to go ahead and grab what he can get.
In Response

by: elen from: nj
April 30, 2014 12:34 PM
nikos retsos has the best and the clearest view of the situation in Ukraine. Unfotunately, if the West pushes Russia too far and if there is no valid accusations then welcome to Crimea WWIII

by: Nashingun from: Philippines
April 30, 2014 11:23 AM
The west should arm Ukraine. Send them weapons, tanks, missiles, and so much more to deal with Russian backed separatists. We all know Russia is behind all this chaos.
In Response

by: formerRussian from: USA
April 30, 2014 2:18 PM
... and all that stuff will be greatly accepted by Eastern protesters as a great gift. You can't trust Ukrainian military, they don't want a fight with their own people - see news.
In Response

by: Kiljoy616 from: Heaven
April 30, 2014 1:51 PM
The west is weak, they are a joke and are going to bankrupt them selves. Hard to tell Russia to back off with 14 years and two country war with 100 thousand plus dead civilians. Putin is having a good laugh watching the West run around like children.
In Response

by: Premek from: Czech republic
April 30, 2014 12:59 PM
Dear Nashingun, people in Ukraine see the situation differently then you and your comrades. They have enough weapons but they do not want use them against people of their own nation. It is that simple. Russia just stands by to enable the people to define their future thru a referendum. Have a nice day and stop believing the biggest print is the truth.
In Response

by: Lance from: Alaska
April 30, 2014 12:20 PM
Sure.... Send them all those weapons and then watch the rest of the world get dragged into a land war in Russia. If neither Hitler, nor Napoleon could win that war, what makes you think anyone else could?

by: Aleck
April 30, 2014 10:55 AM
Dear Sirs, what is going on your Have you lost control of your VOA employees on that website? They do not follow your own forum rules and post material that is defamatory, indecent and abusive. Don't you find it strange that on you will hardly find a comment that criticizes Russia? Instead you will find a host of comments in which the participants of the forum feel at ease to abuse America, the President of the USA and government decision makers. (eg. "licking Uncle Sam's ass"). My post with criticism of pro-Russia separatists in the Ukraine was not approved by your designated representatives and was not posted. Have you really lost control of your employees on They discredit your Website.

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Abeokuta ,Nigeria.
April 30, 2014 10:04 AM
Any agreement with Putin's Russia is an added time for him to carve another region and continue to destabilize Ukraine. USA and UK should stand firm in its agreement to protect Ukraine's territorial integrity or give them back their Nukes to fend for them selves.
In Response

by: Richard from: Santa Cruz, Ca.
April 30, 2014 11:57 AM
Russia should be left alone to take part of Ukraine and then stop. The people want to be part of Russia, so be it. Ukraine is run by crooks and billionaires. The US and EU should stay out of this mess.
Comments page of 2

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