The Ukrainian military is prepared to use force in an “anti-terrorist” strike against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country according to acting Ukrainian president Oleksander Turchinov. The ultimatum to lay down their arms and surrender by 6:00am GMT came after the death of a state security officer in the city of Slaviansk.
“The National Security and Defence Council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine,” Turchinov said. The government believes that the pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country, which is predominantly Russian speaking, are getting their orders from Moscow. Turchinov went on to say the the Ukrainian government would not allow the Russians to repeat what the did in Crimea in any other part of the country.
However, the Russian Foreign Ministry is calling on the United States and its allies to keep Kiev under control, saying that the orders given by Turchinov to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist action to quash rebellions are a “criminal order”. The Ministry said in a statement that it is the United States responsibility to prevent a civil war from breaking out in Ukraine.
According the Reuters, the United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 8pm in New York at Russia’s request and that they are negotiating Ukrainian involvement in the meeting. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power said that the crisis in Ukraine shows signs of Moscow’s involvement in pro-Russian actions in the east, signaling that that there’s nothing to indicate a local, grass-roots effort, but a professional and well planned operation. She went on to say that President Obama has laid out various sanction option to impose on Russia from energy, banking, mining and everything in between.
With Russian troops amassed on the Ukrainian border, and with civil unrest in the eastern part of the country, relations between the Russian east and the European west have been tense to say the least. The NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called on Moscow to de-escalate the crisis and pull back troops from the border.
Rasmussen also commented on the current events that have taken place in Eastern Ukraine, saying that “The reappearance of men with specialized Russian weapons and identical uniforms without insignia, as previously worn by Russian troops during Russia’s illegal and illegitimate seizure of Crimea, is a grave development,”
President Obama has reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin from seizing more Ukrainian territory because of the clashes between the Ukrainian government and the pro-Russian protesters. However, Russia has said multiple times that Moscow reserves the right to “defend” ethnic Russians inside of Ukraine if they see them being threaten by the Ukrainian government, however the Russian government has failed to produce any evidence suggesting Ukrainian aggression against ethnic Russians within its borders.
Turmoil began earlier this week when pro-Russian forces stormed government buildings in several Eastern Ukrainian cities, which have lead to several gun fights and casualties along the way. Because of this, Ukrainian President, Oleksander Turchinov has called on the rebels to lay down their arms, surrender occupied buildings or face military reprisal.
On Thursday, Russian and Ukrainian officials are set to meet in Geneva to speak about the ongoing crisis although Russia has refused to acknowledge the new Ukrainian government as legitimate. The United States and the European Union will also send officials to Geneva to participate in said talks.
By Nathaniel Pownell