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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Ukraine troops seize airfield from pro-Russian forces

    Ukraine troops seize airfield from pro-Russian forces

    Violence continues to plague eastern Ukraine, despite an ultimatum by the government for pro-Russian activists to leave occupied government buildings. Video provided by Reuters Newslook

    Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY12:16 p.m. EDT April 15, 2014

    (Photo: Anatoliy Stepahov AFP/Getty Images)

    Ukraine's acting president launched an "anti-terrorism operation" in the strife-storm eastern regions Tuesday and said Ukrainian troops had "liberated" an airport from pro-Russian forces about 120 miles from the Russian border.

    The mayor of Kramatorsk, in Ukraine's Donetsk region, said Ukrainian troops had taken control of the airfield, the Associated Press reports. The AP reported heavy gunfire in the area. reported that four people were killed and two injured in the takeover, but the casualty figures could not be independently confirmed.

    Another Russian news service, RIA-Novosti, quoted a representative of a pro-Russian militia as saying that at least two protesters were wounded in the attack on the airfield.

    "Tonight a counter-terrorism operation was launched in the north of Donetsk region. But it will go on gradually, responsibly and prudently," acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said in a speech to parliament.

    "Once again I emphasize that these actions are meant for the protection of Ukrainian citizens, stopping terror, criminality, [and] attempts to break our country into pieces."

    Pro-Russian insurgents have seized government buildings across eastern Ukraine in recent days and were digging in on Tuesday, fortifying their positions and erecting fresh barricades.

    Turchynov said that Russia's plans in the area "were and remain brutal."

    "They want to see not just Donbas burning -- they want the whole south and east to burn: from Kharkiv to Odesa regions," he siad.

    While reports remained sketchy, Interfax Ukraine says Ukrainian armored personnel carriers stormed the airfield, which lies between the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. Interfax reports that Ukrainian troops fired on pro-Russian terrorists who had occupied the airfield.

    An AP reporter earlier reported seeing seeing at least 14 armored personnel carriers with Ukrainian flags, one helicopter and military trucks parked 24 miles north of Slovyansk, which is 100 miles from the Russian border.

    Other heavy military equipment appeared nearby, along with at least seven busloads of government troops in black military fatigues.

    "We are awaiting the order to move on Sloyvansk," said one soldier, who gave only his first name, Taras.

    Two of the helicopters loaded with troops later took off and headed toward Slovyansk.

    A CNN news team also reported encountering a large Ukrainian military column traveling on roads leading from the city of Donetsk toward other towns in the region on Tuesday. The column included more than 20 armored personnel carriers, along with support vehicles, and a helicopter circled overhead.

    Roads into Slovyansk, a city some west of Russia that has come under ever more secure control of the gunmen since Saturday, were dotted with checkpoints. One at the entrance into town was waving a Russian flag. Another bore a sign reading "If we don't do it, nobody will."

    The insurgents, many of them armed, continued occupying government, police and other administrative buildings in nearly nine cities in the country's Russian-speaking east of the country, demanding broader autonomy and closer ties with Russia. The central government has so far been unable to rein in the insurgents, as many of the local security forces have switched to their side.

    The unrest comes after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula last month following the ouster of Ukraine's pro-Russian president at the end of three months of pro-Western protests.

    The city of Horlivka, not far from the Russian border, where the local police station was seized by unidentified gunmen on Monday, has been turned into the latest of a wave of sit-ins across eastern Ukraine, where at least nine cities appeared in control of the insurgents.

    Outside the police station, a sign pinned to the wall of tires listed items required by protesters, including blankets, drinking water and tape to cover up windows smashed during the storming of the building.

    Anatoly Zhurov, a 53-year old Horlivka resident participating in the defense of the site, said their goal was to resist the government in Kiev.

    The Interior Ministry's branch in the Donetsk region said on Tuesday that the police station in Kramatorsk that was seized by pro-Russian gunmen has been "liberated" while the nearby small airport is still controlled by the militia.

    Turchynov, speaking to parliament, gave few details of the "anti-terrorist operation," saying only that it would be conducted in a "responsible and balanced" manner.

    "The plans of the Russian Federation were and remain brutal. They want not only for Donbass (Donetsk region), but for the whole south and east of Ukraine to be engulfed by fire," Turchynov said. The aim of the operation is to "defend the citizens of Ukraine, to stop terror, stop crime and stop attempts to tear our country into pieces," he said.

    Russia strongly warned Kiev against using force against the pro-Russian protesters, saying Moscow could walk out of an international conference devoted to the Ukrainian crisis scheduled for Thursday.

    "You can't send in tanks and at the same time hold talks and the use force would sabotage the opportunity offered by the four-party negotiations in Geneva," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference Tuesday after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. "One cannot issue invitations to talks while at the same time issuing criminal orders for the use of armed force against the people there."

    In a sign the economic situation is becoming ever more difficult, Ukraine's central bank increased its benchmark interest rate by a whopping 7 percent to 14.5 percent.

    The move aims to contain the risk of inflation by supporting the currency, which has been falling to record lows in recent days. A dropping currency fuels inflation by boosting the cost of imports.

    However, hiking interest rates can cause collateral damage to the economy by making loans and mortgages more expensive to residents and businesses.

    Ukraine has relied on cheap gas supplies from Russia for years.

    Moscow raised the gas prices for Kiev in the past weeks, leaving Ukraine scrambling to pay the mounting gas bills as well as multi-billion arrears.

    In the wake of Moscow's threats to cut off the supplies, German utility company RWE AG said on Tuesday that it has started supplying gas to Ukraine via Poland began Tuesday could sell it up to 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas a year. Ukraine consumes between 52 and 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

    In Kiev, two pro-Russian politicians were attacked by pro-Western activists as tensions mounted over unrest in the east.

    Oleh Tsaryov, a pro-Russian lawmaker and a candidate in the May 25 presidential elections, was beaten by dozens of enraged activists in the early hours of Tuesday as he was leaving a television studio. The activists pelted him with eggs, shouted insults and then assaulted him.

    Tsaryov's press service said in a statement that he was "brutally beaten."

    Another Russian-leaning politician and presidential hopeful, Mikhaylo Dobkin, was sprayed with a green disinfectant and had flour thrown at him late Monday.

    Moscow accused Kiev authorities of condoning such radicalism and said the attacks proved that presidential elections will not be fair or democratic.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    PARADISE (San Diego)
    Ukraine forces on the move

    Russia: Ukraine on brink of civil war

    Ukraine's acting president says "an anti-terrorist" operation is under way in the Donetsk region. A CNN team spotted more than 20 armored personnel carriers in the area. FULL STORY


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