Pro-Russian rebels ignore ultimatum, tighten grip on east Ukraine

April 15, 2014 | By | Reply More

Apr 15, – Pro-Russian separatists on Monday ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine and instead seized more buildings as the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown.

hromedia Pro-Russian rebels ignore ultimatum, tighten grip on east Ukraine eu news5Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksander Turchinov, said on Monday the offensive against the rebels would still go ahead. But in a sign of discord behind the scenes in Kiev, he sacked the state security chief in charge of the operation.

In one of the first signs of a military deployment by Kiev’s forces, a Ukrainian column of two tanks and more than 20 armored personnel carriers packed with paratroops was seen about 70 km (50 miles) northwest of Slaviansk on Monday evening, according to video journalist Maksim Dondyuk who filmed them.

In Donetsk, rebels holed up in the administrative headquarters of a province that is home to 10 percent of Ukraine’s population said they planned to seize control of infrastructure and the levers of state power. They have declared an independent “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and sought Putin’s protection if they are attacked.

In a bid to undercut the rebels’ demands, Turchinov held out the prospect of a countrywide referendum on the future shape of the Ukrainian state. Pro-Russian secessionists want separate referendums in their regions, which Kiev says is illegal.

U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Russia in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Monday, saying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were not conducive to a diplomatic solution.

The Kremlin said it had requested the call. The White House said the call was frank and direct.

“President Putin called on Barack Obama to do his utmost to use the opportunities that the United States has to prevent the use of force, and bloodshed,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The White House said Obama urged Russia to use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down.

“The president emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized,” the White House said in a statement.

Pro-Russian rebels have seized buildings in around 10 other towns and cities across other eastern provinces that form the heartland of Ukraine’s heavy industry.

In the town of Slaviansk, where the authorities failed to follow through with their announced “anti-terrorist” operation, rebels called for Putin’s help.

The Kremlin said the Russian president was listening.

“Unfortunately, there’s a great many such appeals coming from the eastern Ukrainian regions addressed directly to Putin to intervene in this or that form,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “The president is watching the developments in Eastern Ukraine with great concern.”

The Ukraine crisis, and in particular the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month, have led to the most strained relations between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

The White House has warned Russia it would face further costs over its actions in Ukraine, but it made clear earlier on Monday that the United States was not considering lethal aid for Ukraine.

European foreign ministers agreed to step up sanctions, and U.S. officials have said they were in consultations with European partners on how to punish Moscow for what Kiev and its Western allies call a Russian plot to dismember Ukraine.

Moscow has largely brushed off sanctions so far, which the United States and Europe have explicitly designed to target only a limited number of officials and avert wider economic harm.

Press journalist for HROmedia – Debi Campillos contributed to this report.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: European Crises

Leave a Reply