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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs