Tag Archives: Sloviansk

BBC News – Ukraine : Pentagon says Russian jets violated airspace

Armed pro-Russia groups remain in control of seized buildings in eastern Ukraine

The US says Russian military aircraft have entered Ukrainian airspace several times in the past 24 hours, amid rising tension in the east of the country.

A Pentagon spokesman told the BBC on Friday that the incidents had happened mainly near the border with Russia, but gave no further details.

Earlier, pro-Russian separatists seized a bus carrying international military observers, Ukrainian officials said.

Talks were under way to secure their release near the town of Sloviansk.

Russia has tens of thousands of troops deployed along its side of the border with Ukraine as pro-Moscow separatists continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen eastern towns, defying the government in Kiev.

Also on Friday, US President Barack Obama and European leaders threatened to impose new sanctions on Russia, saying it has failed to implement an agreement to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.

Russia has accused the West of wanting to “seize” Ukraine.

In a statement from the Pentagon, Col Steven Warren repeated US calls to take “immediate steps to de-escalate the situation”.

He said the US had told Russian officials that US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wanted to speak to his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, but there had been no response so far.

Mr Hagel described Russian activity along the Ukrainian border as “dangerously destabilising” and “very provocative”.

via BBC News – Ukraine crisis: Pentagon says Russian jets violated airspace.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Ukraine army launches next stage of military op ‘to isolate Slavyansk’

Ukrainian soldiers stand guard in front of an armoured personnel carrier at a checkpoint in the village of Malinivka, east of Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine April 24, 2014.

Kiev authorities say “the second stage” of the military operation in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk has been launched, which will “completely isolate” the anti-government stronghold. Self-defense forces are preparing for an assault.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on military operation in eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian troops were ordered to commence the next stage of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ around 12pm local time (10:00 GMT), according to coup-appointed acting head of presidential administration Sergey Pashinsky.

“The aim is to completely isolate Slavyansk to localize the problem. At the moment, the operation is ongoing,” the official told media as quoted by RIA Novosti.

Ukrainian armed forces have set up a military base some 20 kilometers from Slavayansk, RT’s stringer, Ukraine-based British journalist Graham Phillips reports. According to Phillips, there is an ongoing buildup of troops in the area and “snipers hiding in forests in position.” The city is being encircled, he tweets.

The military do not intend to storm Slavyansk, fearing civilian casualties, the Ukrainian Security Service has claimed.

“We will not go the length of [civilian] casualties, to storm the city. We understand that this may lead to many people coming to harm,” General Vasily Krutov, first deputy head of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Pashinsky meanwhile repeated earlier Kiev’s claims that “terrorists have placed their key strong points in kindergartens and hospitals,” branding the situation in Slavyansk as “classic terrorism.” The claims have been dismissed by Slavyansk activists as “ridiculous.”

Despite the promises of no storming of the city planned, Slavyansk self-defense activists have braced for an assault, which they fear may soon start under the guise of the city’s “blockade.”

Self-defense activists cited by ITAR-TASS have claimed that a convoy of military armored vehicles and troops bearing “no insignia” was spotted moving in the direction of Slavyansk and then “disappeared in the woods” surrounding the city.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Kidnapped U.S. Journalist Is ‘Bargaining Chip’ in Ukraine

U.S. journalist Simon Ostrovsky’s current whereabouts are unknown.

As friends and family waited impatiently to hear from Simon Ostrovsky, the journalist kidnapped by pro-Russian insurgents Tuesday, an image of a scantily dressed woman crawling across a bed appeared on his Facebook page Wednesday, likely the work of hackers.

Also Wednesday, the self-proclaimed mayor of the Ukrainian city of Slovyansk said he would not free Ostrovsky.

“We need prisoners,” Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, the “people’s mayor” of Slovyansk, told Gazeta.ru on Wednesday. “We need bargaining chips. Many of our comrades are behind bars. They [the Ukrainian security forces] take them to Kiev and torture them. Now we are doing the same. Taking prisoners, that is.”

Stella Khoroshego, a spokeswoman for the self-appointed authorities of Slovyansk, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Ostrovsky was “fine” and that he had been detained on suspicion of “bad activities,” without elaborating on their nature.

Ponomaryov told Interfax that Ostrovsky was an informant for Ukraine’s Right Sector far-right nationalist party, the news agency reported.

Ostrovsky, a journalist at Vice News and former Moscow Times reporter, had been covering the crisis in Ukraine for the past weeks. He had presented a series of bold video dispatches called “Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine,” in which he regularly challenged armed men with blunt questions and sharp observations.

Ostrovsky’s whereabouts remain unknown. Pro-Russian insurgents denied that Ostrovsky was being held at the local state security building.

The self-appointed leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk contradicted Ponomaryov and Khoroshego, denying the involvement of pro-Russian militants in the kidnapping of Ostrovsky and other journalists.

“We can neither confirm nor exclude the possibility that any foreign journalists have been kidnapped,” a spokesman for Yekaterina Gubareva, the self-styled foreign minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told The Moscow Times on Wednesday. “All we can say is that we [the Donetsk People’s Republic] have not done this. This could be a provocation.”

The spokesman cited the case of Volodymyr Rybak, a member of acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov‘s party, who was found dead Tuesday after reportedly being abducted by pro-Russian forces and tortured, as an example of a “provocation” aimed at discrediting regional self-appointed authorities.

“We had nothing to do with the incident [involving Rybak] and we have stated this clearly,” the spokesman said. “It was a provocation. The same could be true about stories of kidnapped foreign journalists.”

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe released a statement Tuesday calling for Ostrovsky’s immediate release and expressing concern about the “ongoing negative pattern in relation to journalists’ safety in Ukraine.”

Earlier this week, Irma Krat, a Ukrainian journalist and pro-government activist, was taken hostage by pro-Russian forces in Slovyansk. The 29-year-old journalist was later brought out blindfolded and paraded outside the city’s security service building, where she confirmed that she was being detained and had not been harmed.

Belarussian reporter Dmitry Galka, as well as French and Italian journalists Paul Gogo and Kossimo Attanasio, were also detained in Slovyansk on Monday but were released a few hours later.

“My colleagues were trying to capture the daily life of the city on camera,” Galka, who is currently reporting from Donetsk, told The Moscow Times in a telephone interview Wednesday. “Then suddenly three armed young men in camouflage [gear] showed up and accused them of being European spies. We were pushed into the backseat of a car and taken to what we think was the center of their operations.”

Galka said that the reporters’ passports and equipment had been confiscated but returned to them upon their release.

“One of the men was on the phone, most likely speaking with his superiors,” Galka said. “And all of a sudden, we were told we could leave. And the armed men even told us we could be photographed with them. We used this picture as a ‘pass’ when we were stopped by other militants after our release.”

A Moscow Times reporter was also briefly detained by pro-Russian insurgents in Slovyansk on April 15. His belongings were personally searched by Ponomaryov, the self-appointed mayor.

Vice News, Ostrovsky’s employer, released a statement Tuesday saying that the organization was “in contact with the U.S. State Department and other appropriate government authorities” to ensure the journalist’s safety and security.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington during Tuesday’s daily briefing that the department condemned the hostage takings but that it did not have any additional information on Ostrovsky’s case.

Ukraine currently ranks 127th in Reporters Without Borders’ 2014 Freedom of the Press Index, behind Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uganda. Russia ranks 148th.

 The Moscow Times.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Ukrainian military open fire on militia in Kramatorsk, three injured

Ukrainian servicemen opened fire on the militia in Kramatorsk, three were wounded, told supporters of federalization to RIA Novosti.

According to them, in the area of Pchekino in Kramatorsk militia tried to break the car convoy of several BMD that was going to the airfield, which was held since the evening by the Ukrainian military. They wedged into the column and blocked the way to the closing machine.

Ukrainian military opened fire. One militia was wounded in the shoulder and two were wounded in the legs. The car managed to go through towards the airfield. The victims hae received medical help.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Crucial railway in Ukraine’s Donetsk region blocked by unknown people

Changes have been made in the routes of long-distance and commuter trains, unidentified individuals blocked the railway between the stations of Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka

Soldiers seen near a railway in Kramatorsk

Soldiers seen near a railway in Kramatorsk

KIEV, April 16.

A new element may have appeared in the standoff between the population of Ukraine’s eastern regions and the forces loyal to the central government, as unknown people blocked a crucial railway between the city of Kramatorsk and the town of Druzhkovka on Wednesday, the Donetsk Railway Department press service says.

“In the wake of an unauthorized blocking of the railway between the stations of Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka by unidentified individuals, changes have been made in the routes of long-distance and commuter trains, which are diverted to a different line until the unauthorized blocking is lifted,” the press service said.

A total of twenty-six long-distance passenger trains and twenty-eight commuter trains traverse the line between Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka daily.

The line provides a railway link between the heavily industrialized and densely populated southeast of the Donetsk region and the city of Kharkov. It also links the area to Lozovaya, one of the biggest railway junctions in Southeast Ukraine.


Enhanced by Zemanta

No sign of crackdown as Ukraine deadline passes

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

Armed pro-Russians storm police stations

A Ukrainian government deadline for pro-Russian protesters to lay down their arms and leave occupied buildings passed Monday with no sign of it being heeded in the eastern cities of Donetsk or Slaviansk.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given the protesters until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by its armed forces.

But the deadline passed with no movement at the regional government building in Donetsk, which has been occupied for more than a week, and where barricades have been strengthened in the last few days.

In Slaviansk, pro-Russian protesters milled around with makeshift shields outside the occupied police station.

Similar deadlines in the past passed with no consequence.

Turchynov had issued a promise of amnesty for the activists — made up of protesters as well as armed militants who in recent days have stormed public buildings and planted Russian flags on them — in eastern Ukraine but warned that anyone who continues to support the takeover of government buildings would be held responsible for their actions.

“We’ll not allow any repetition of the Crimean scenario in the east of Ukraine. I have signed a decree that would allow those who did not shoot at our officers to lay down their arms and leave the occupied buildings by Monday morning without fear of being prosecuted,” he said.

Turchynov added that anyone who supports violence will be punished.

“We are ready to consider a significant expansion of regional powers of all regions and the wider reform of local self-government. However, all those supporting aggressors and occupiers in an armed struggle against our country will not escape punishment and will be prosecuted,” he said.

No top Ukrainian officials immediately posted any updates to mark the passing of the deadline.

Enhanced by Zemanta