Late Thursday activists from the Donbass people’s militia blocked the way of columns with about 20 trucks carrying heavy military equipment near Donetsk heading to the Russian border, a local activist and former officer of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry told RT.
“At about 5pm [1500 GMT], local activists called me,” said Sergey Rzhavsky. “They reported that a column [with military equipment] was situated near the town of Volovaha from the side of the Valeryanovka settlement. We, the Donbass People’s Self-Defense Units of Pavel Gubarev [the local governor, currently arrested in Kiev] promptly headed there. We saw about 20 heavy trucks there with some carrying airborne combat vehicles.”
According to Rzhavsky, the activists engaged in negotiations with the troops that lasted about an hour or two. During the negotiations, the activists found out that the trucks were heading to a polygon situated near the border with Russia for some military training, he said.
“Since we do not want fratricidal carnage, we suggested the military to refrain from using force. We were unmasked, without any means of self-defense. We asked them to turn around and leave, because the military equipment was really heavy and if the columns passed the city it would escalate tensions, [and evoke] shock and panic,” he said.
The activists and the troops, who called their superiors for guidance, came to a compromise, and the Kiev troops decided to turn around, Rzhavsky told RT.
“There were no conflicts. A lot of people gathered. They stopped and offered their help and moral support, they just wanted to express their views.”
Rzhavsky added that he knows of 58 airborne combat vehicles which are moving through the Donetsk and Lugansk regions and are heading for the eastern border.
Residents of Lugansk also stopped a train, carrying heavy military equipment, which was headed for the border Thursday. They put scrap metal on the rails to stop the train from moving any farther.
“Currently there is an escalation of different kind of extremist organizations in our region” he said, adding, “We don’t want the same developments as in Kiev.”
“All that is happening is a provocation of the extremist organizations that are attempting to undermine the situation in the region,” Rzhavsky said.
He added that the people in eastern Ukraine are not against the country’s army, but they are calling for the politicians to sit down at the negotiating table.
“We don’t want a fratricidal war,” Rzhavsky said, adding that many in eastern Ukraine support the currently ongoing Crimea referendum on either becoming an integral part of Russia or staying within Ukraine under the conditions of broad autonomy.