Clashes in east Ukraine leave at least 2 dead

2014-04-24 14:58
Ukrainian troops take position next to burning tires at a pro Russian checkpoint following an attack by Ukrainian troops outside in Slovyansk, Ukraine. (File, AP)

Ukrainian troops take position next to burning tires at a pro Russian checkpoint following an attack by Ukrainian troops outside in Slovyansk, Ukraine. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Slovyansk - Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation".

The fighting was the first since acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Tuesday ordered the resumption of military operations in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia protesters and masked gunmen have seized government buildings and set up checkpoints on the roads.

Putin threatened Kiev with unspecified consequences. "If the Kiev government is using the army against its own people this is clearly a grave crime," Putin said.

The Ukrainian government and many in the West worry that Russia is seeking a pretext for a military intervention in eastern Ukraine.

Putin insists he has the right to intervene to protect ethnic Russians, who make up a sizeable minority in Ukraine's east. Russia has tens of thousands of troops arrayed along its side of Ukraine's eastern border.

Earlier in Tokyo, US President Barack Obama accused Moscow of failing to live up to "the spirit or the letter" of an agreement last week to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine. If that continues, he said, "there will be further consequences and we will ramp up further sanctions".

Fighters ready

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said in a statement that military and special police forces killed "up to five terrorists" while destroying three checkpoints north of Slovyansk, a city 160km west of the Russian border that has emerged as the focus of the armed insurgency. One of the government troops was injured, the statement said.

Stella Khorosheva, a spokesperson for the Slovyansk insurgents, said she could confirm that two pro-Russia fighters had been killed at a checkpoint in the village of Khrestyshche, about 10km north of the city.

The situation was quiet inside the city of Slovyansk itself, but Khorosheva said the fighters were ready to repel any attack by government troops.

"We will defend ourselves to our last drop of blood. We are ready to repeat Stalingrad," she told The Associated Press, invoking the memory of the Soviet army's victory over German forces in 1942-43.

At least 10 Ukrainian government armoured vehicles were seen parked on the road just to the north of Slovyansk, while two helicopters were spotted circling over the area. Troops ordered residents in the surrounding area to keep away.

Near the town of Makatikha, several kilometres north of Slovyansk, pro-Russian militia at checkpoints set fire to barricades of car tires in an apparent attempt to reduce visibility from the air.

An Associated Press reporter observed about two dozen militiamen manning checkpoints along the road earlier in the day.

Demanding annexation

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said his forces also have cleared the city hall in the south-eastern city of Mariupol of the pro-Russia protesters who had been occupying it for more than a week. Local police officials and protesters, however, presented quite another picture of what happened.

Avakov wrote in a Facebook post that the Mariupol city hall "has been freed to resume work", but did not describe the action.

However, Yulia Lasazan, a spokesperson for Mariupol's police department, told The Associated Press that about 30 masked men armed with baseball bats stormed the building in the early hours on Thursday and started beating the protesters.

It was not clear why the protesters, some of whom were believed to be armed, did not offer resistance but called the police instead.

Five people were taken to a hospital, Lasazan said.

Lasazan said the police were controlling the perimeter and were negotiating with the remaining protesters to leave the building.

Ukraine is going through its biggest political crisis since the fall of Soviet Union, set off by months-long anti-government protests and President Viktor Yanukovych's flight to Russia.

Yanukovych's ousting sparked wide anger in his support base in Ukraine's east. The insurgents, who claim Ukraine's post-Yanukovych government consists of nationalists who will suppress the east's large Russian-speaking population, are demanding regional autonomy or even annexation by Russia.

Ukraine and Russia reached a deal in Geneva last week to defuse the crisis, but pro-Russian insurgents in the east - and right-wing militants in Kiev - have defied calls for all sides to disarm and to vacate the buildings they are occupying.
- AP
Read more on:    viktor yanukovych  |  barack obama  |  vladimir putin  |  oleksandr turchynov  |  ukraine
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
45 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Joburg hot spots for cocktails, craft beer, tapas and wine!

It’s the season to be jolly – so we’ve rounded up some new Joburg hot spots!

 
 

I love summer.24

The craziest deaths of 2014
How to make this a sensual, sexy summer!
This is what South Africans Googled in 2014!
This hilarious song is your new holiday anthem

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Hermanus

Houses R 2 680 000

HOUSES FOR SALE IN Paarl

Houses R 2 690 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2DAYS ONLY – 30% off Appliances

Coffee makers, blenders, fans, juicers and more. T&Cs apply. Shop now!

2 DAYS ONLY – 40% off books

Get 40% off when you buy 2 books. For two days only! T&Cs apply. Buy now!

Up to 50% off on outdoor gear

Save on chairs, blankets, cooler bags, umbrellas and more. Shop now!

Save on Samsung

Cameras, mobile phones, TVs, Tablets and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

Grand Theft Auto 5

Now available on PS4, Xbox One and PC from R649. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be emotionally defensive or reserved today. You need to step up today as there may be extra responsibilities to deal with....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.