Ukraine: Separatists Seize Buildings and Arms, Declare Sovereignty

Radio Free Europe screen capRadio Free Europe screen capPro-Russian separatists stormed and seized government buildings in three cities in eastern Ukraine yesterday, declaring sovereignty in one and demanding referendums for independence in all three.

In the city of Donetsk around 2,000 protesters gathered. According to Agence France-Presse, "nearly 100" of them reportedly broke off and captured regional government buildings, flying Russian flags and possibly plotting to use explosives.

Radio Free Europe writes that the protesters "proclaimed the creation of a separatist republic... called for a referendum on the region's future to be held by May 11 and asked for Russia to send a 'peacekeeping contingent' to protect the separatists." Activists in Luhansk and Kharkiv seized an armory and administrative buildings, respectively, and also called for independence referendums.

"The situation will come back under control without bloodshed," Ukraine's interior minister said yesterday. "That is the order to law enforcement officers, it's true. But the truth is that no one will peacefully tolerate the lawlessness of provocateurs." Several police officers were injured and in one case officers did use tear gas. The minister noted today that all buildings are operating normally again.

"I respect various political views, including those of our opponents. But separatism and the use of arms against our own state, which carries a direct threat to the security and life of our citizens has nothing to do with politics," said the country's pro-western interim president Oleksandr Turchynov in a speech today, blaming the Russian government for orchestrating a plot to destabilize Ukraine and said his government plans on taking "anti-terrorist measures against" provocateurs.

The interim prime minister warned that Russia has tens of thousands of troops ready only 19 miles from the Ukrainian border.

The BBC highlights the fact that despite that sizable ethnic Russian populations in eastern regions, "opinion polls there have shown considerable support for a united Ukraine." The independent Russian news agency Reed published an article today arguing that the pro-Russian separatist movement in Ukraine has very limited support.

Russian President Vladimir Putin responded to the situation, saying that instability in Ukraine is indicative of a greater western threat and that his Federal Security Service (the successor to the KGB) may have to crack down on non-governmental organizations within Russia, "develop Russia's border infrastructure in the Arctic," and help stabilization efforts in Central Asia once the U.S. leaves Afghanistan.

For more Reason coverage of Ukraine, click here.

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  • Sevo||

    So it's the Republic of You and Me (and I'm not sure about you)?
    Who drew the boundaries and when?

  • ||

    Boundaries are soooo age of imperialism, it's all bout dem referendums, man!

  • ||

    Uh oh, just when I thought the war hawks had forgotten about the Ukraine situation, now this? Looks like McCain has another excuse to keep drinking unicorn blood to prolong his life.

  • tarran||

    Who knew the slavs wanted slaves too!

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling!!!||

    Its slavery all the way down.

  • ||

    Putin's administration is slowly starting to push its already-fantastic luck right past the line. I just hope he's not retarded enough to threaten NATO member-states.

  • Sevo||

    ..."I just hope he's not retarded enough to threaten NATO member-states."

    Me too, since I'm sick and tired of paying for their defense.

  • ||

    To be honest, so am I. We're protecting their countries and fighting their wars, and by doing that which they didn't have to do themselves, we're assuming the moral responsibility for everything. Americans are paying for it, Americans are sweating for it, Americans are bleeding for it, and Americans are dying for it.

    These people really have not a clue just how fortunate they are they can always rely on Columbia to combat the threats they should be able to confront themselves.

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling!!!||

    We're protecting their countries [TRUE] and fighting their wars [OH? Where?] I am aware of NATO countries fighting our wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) lately - where are fighting on someone's behalf?

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    fighting their wars [OH? Where?]

    The Balkans and Libya--They've provided a lot for us in the ME, but it's not like we've been the only beneficiaries.

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling!!!||

    I would agree with you on the Balkans, but O! jumped into Libya on his own.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Honestly, I don't see anything, in this story at least, to suggest that he's doing anything of the sort. From what I can tell, he's responding with measures that provide the rebels with no substantive support and telling the Ukrainians to get a handle on their affairs. My impression is that his ambitions, if you want to call it that, ended with Russia retaining control of the Crimea.

  • Ivan Pike||

    My impression is that his ambitions, if you want to call it that, ended with Russia retaining control of the Crimea.

    I'm not so sure about that. My guess is Eastern Ukraine divided from Western Ukraine.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    But, what has he done to affect that result? I mean, all this assumes Ukraine is some sort of prize that Putin's just salivating over. I'm more inclined to buy Kramer's take on it.

  • Ivan Pike||

    But, what has he done to affect that result?

    Thousands of troops near the border, raising the price of gas going to Ukraine, moral support. I don't know what his end game is either. Maybe he wants a bit more of a buffer between east and west.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Fair point. What I'd suggest, is that we'd have been much better off drawing these sorts of lines a couple of weeks ago, rather than getting ourselves in a fit calling Putin Hitler.

  • nova3930||

    I seriously doubt it. Odds are Putin is screwing with Ukraine precisely because he knows it won't trigger a big shooting war with the US/NATO. As much noise as they make, nobody in the US/NATO really gives a damn about Ukraine....

  • db||

    Smoove move, Groov'.

  • ||

    Has anyone heard from Groovus? Not that I know him personally or anything. I've just seen it said on here that he was in Ukraine, and last I saw, no one had heard from him. That was a while back though.

  • Sevo||

    He was in Kiev, so it's away from this or the Crimea, but there were deaths in the Kiev protests, so my fingers are crossed.

  • Ted S.||

    I thought he was in Donetsk. :-(

  • John||

    This is a dispute between Russia and Ukraine. We have no business sticking our nose in it than Russia would a conflict between the US and Mexico.

    I have really had it with the "but what if Russia dominates Eastern Europe" arguments. So what if they do? They have for most of the last 400 years. And I wish them luck doing so. The Soviets spent billions and probably trillions of dollars keeping hundreds of thousands of troops in Eastern Europe in order to keep it under their control. The moment it was clear the Russians no longer had the will or the ability to invade like the did in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, those pro Russian governments fell. Does anyone seriously think Russia today has the ability to even do that or wouldn't go broke trying to just like they did last time?

    Russia is no longer the carrier of a murderous ideology that people in places like Cuba or even the US will pick up and use as an excuse to destroy our way of life. Maybe there is a great "Russian Orthodox" world terror movement I am unaware of. But I think it is pretty unlikely that Russia is going to cause any problems outside of the places where they have always dominated.

  • John||

    We certainly expect to dominate Latin America and rightfully reserve the right to crush some little piss ant dictatorship like Venezuela if they ever cause us too many problems. We owe the Russians the same curtsey in their neighborhood. One of the great benefits of the cold war being over is that we no longer have to give regional conflicts world significance like we did in Korea and Vietnam and such. Lets enjoy that benefit for a while.

  • Tim||

    The frikkin' Ukrainians aren't even fighting for themselves. Why the Hell should we be getting (more) involved.

  • Swiss Servator, Frühling!!!||

    We certainly expect to dominate Latin America and rightfully reserve the right to crush some little piss ant dictatorship like Venezuela if they ever cause us too many problems.

    Oh? Last I saw the United Fruit Company wasn't goading the Marines into seizing Customs Houses in Central America anymore.

    We owe the Russians the same curtsey in their neighborhood.

    We don't "owe" Russia anything.

    I hope the Ukrainians, Balts, Finns, Central Asians and everyone else Putin might want to incorporate into some neo-Russian empire fight back if he does try it.

  • John||

    So what. Maybe they should be. I don't give a shit. I will tell you this, if Venezuela ever decides to become an ally of Iran and there is ever so much as a bee sting in the US caused by Iran using Venezuela to attack the US, the US should leave Venezuela as a greasy spot in the road and it will be none of China's or Russia's business when we do.

  • MWG||

    "I will tell you this, if Venezuela ever decides to become an ally of Iran and there is ever so much as a bee sting in the US caused by Iran using Venezuela to attack the US, the US should leave Venezuela as a greasy spot in the road..."

    Who cares about the collateral damage, right Red Tony?

  • John||

    Since when does waging war vitiate the need to consider collateral damage?

    I have spent years trying to teach you idiots how international law works and you have learned nothing. You just emote and scream. Does it just make you happy to be emotional and not think?

  • MWG||

    Your hyperbole would make Hitler blush.

    /Godwin

  • ||

    Because when you take over a country, guarding the government buildings should never be on the to-do list.

  • World watchers||

    That a very important step in conquering a nation there government building, police stations ,the best way to keep the calm it to control what the people need

  • World watchers||

    Does this really surprise anyone?

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