News / Europe

    Uncertainty Clouds Ukrainian Military Strategy

    The self-styled mayor of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, speaks with journalists near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 28, 2014.
    The self-styled mayor of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, speaks with journalists near the mayor's office in Slovyansk, Ukraine, April 28, 2014.
    While Ukrainian officials in Kyiv say their military campaign to clear Moscow-backed separatists from Ukraine’s troubled east is proceeding, the operation seems to be stalling amid indecision and fear of provoking Russian retaliation.

    Local Ukrainian commanders say their biggest challenge is determining whom to trust among local law-enforcement agencies in the depressed Donbas region, which is at the heart of the pro-Russian militancy.

    The military campaign is drawn from Interior Ministry Special Forces units and anti-terrorist squads from Ukraine’s intelligence service, the SBU.

    “We think they share information with the separatists,” an SBU colonel in the town of Kramatorsk told VOA.

    Despite establishing their own checkpoints, the pro-Kyiv units seem incapable of blocking the insurgents’ movement – and that of the pro-Ukrainian politicians and activists they’ve abducted – across the region.

    Slovyansk’s separatist leader and self-proclaimed “mayor,”  Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, a former Soviet soldier and soap factory owner, told reporters this weekend that his troops were holding dozens of people suspected of being “spies” or “fascists,” many seized from neighboring towns.

    OSCE monitors held

    That was in addition to the eight military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) taken captive Friday. One was freed Sunday.

    Insurgents also captured three Ukrainian security service officers on Sunday and later displayed them to the press stripped to their underpants, bloodied and blind-folded.

    Human Rights Watch said Monday that it had documented the kidnapping by Slovyansk gunmen of “more than two dozen people, including journalists, political activists, international military observers.”  

    The OSCE kidnappings seem to have halted Kyiv’s anti-separatist operations, although Ukrainian officials deny this.

    Denis Pushilin, head of the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic, passed through at least two pro-Kyiv checkpoints over the weekend while driving 100 kilometers north from Donetsk to Slovyansk to attend a press conference. A day earlier, Ukrainian officials had insisted they’d isolate the town by encircling it with checkpoints.

    Pro-Russian checkpoints that had been cleared late last week were back in insurgents’ hands, with camouflaged gunmen and club-wielding youths standing by to protect them. Kyiv officials contend the gunmen are Russian soldiers, which they deny.

    Pro-Kyiv anti-terrorist units made no effort to stop separatists from restaffing the barricades or setting up just outside Kramatorsk airport.

    Separatists on Monday attacked the pro-Kyiv forces with rocket-propelled grenades, according to Dmytro Tymchuk, coordinator of a military information group. Two Interior Ministry soldiers were wounded in the attack.

    A VOA reporter was stopped on Sunday by heavily armed, masked gunmen in combat fatigues while approaching Kramatorsk’s small airport. Pro-Kyiv anti-terrorist units are using it as a base.

    During questioning, the reporter witnessed a young couple - who had delivered food to soldiers at the airport - being harangued and then bundled into a blue van. They reportedly were sent to nearby Slovyansk. “They were bandits,” one of the gunmen said.  

    Frustration abounds

    An SBU officer expressed frustration to VOA, saying Kyiv keeps issuing confusing instructions and shifting on-the-ground strategy, mainly out of fear that a more determined crackdown would lead to casualties. That might provoke Russia to order its massed forces across the border to intervene, as Moscow keeps threatening.

    The SBU officer said trying to counter the Moscow-backed separatists was like trying to burst a balloon by squeezing it: “We push in one place and they move somewhere else.”

    Separatists have stepped up a campaign targeting local pro-Kyiv politicians.

    The mayor of Kharkiv, Hennadiy Kernes, traditionally considered pro-Russia, was shot in the back and critically wounded on Monday.

    Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, had been the scene of clashes over the weekend between pro-Kyiv soccer fans and pro-Russia supporters. Several people were injured, local authorities said.

    The attack on Kharkiv’s mayor came just days after the body of Volodymyr Rybak, a local pro-Kyiv politician, was found in a river near Slovyansk.

    Ukrainian authorities blame Ponomaryov and Russian military intelligence officers for the murder.

    Ukrainian SBU officials say the Russians decided to kill the politician after he tried to raise the national flag on the municipal building in the town of Horlivka.

    Slovyansk’s “people’s mayor” denies the allegation, saying the politician was killed by Ukrainian ultranationalists.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Guest from: Future
    April 29, 2014 7:16 AM
    You can see an interview of Slovyansk’s Leader Vyacheslav Ponomaryov or Leader of Donetsk Denis Pushilin. For comparison next video:
    It is interesting!!! You can see the interview of wife of leader "Right sector" Dmitry Yarosh. Dmitry Yarosh is Presidential candidate of Ukraine.

    If Dmitry Yarosh will win in election the First Lady of US should talk, smile and kiss with this Mad woman. Please estimate gesture, pose during interview, tearfulness without reason and other factors. If translate her speech it is delirium. Please find psychiatrist in US with knowledge of Russian language and doctor will estimate this woman as inadequate. I translated some details from hir speech briefly:-"Obama and Putin are both fascists. They want to destroy the world. I am fear" (she crays). Do you wish to see this mad woman near Mishel Obama in White House?Do you want to see that Mishel Obama gives this mad woman haloperidol (an antipsychotic medication)?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora