Ukraine and Pro-Russian Militants Exchange Fire: 1 Ukrainian Dead

UkraineAccording to Ukraine’s Interim Interior Minister, there has been gunfire exchanged between the Pro-Russian militants occupying a police building in Slovyansk, and a Ukrainian special forces team. Arsen Avakov also said that one officer was killed in the exchange, and that five others were wounded. This battle comes only a day after a truck pulled up to the police station in Slovyansk and seized the building, and one other, reportedly gaining access to a storage room full of weapons.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister said that there is an “unclear number of casualties among the militia,” but did seem to say both sides experienced loss. However, the Associated Press is now reporting that they have a ground reporter, on the site, who reported no signs of violence in this area on Sunday. The reporter arrived in the area on Sunday, the day of the violence.

The Ukrainian government had previously called the two separate takeovers in Slovyansk and Donetsk examples of “Russian aggression.” Residents in the area have been told to remain calm and stay in their homes. The Associated Press says that they have also interviewed a militia man, who was guarding one of the barricades set up by the Pro-Russian group, and that he said that there was no violence at the police station.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been calling these “uprisings” along the eastern coast of Ukraine, where they border Russia, “orchestrated and synchronized.” He also linked them to similar events that took place in Crimea and other areas along the eastern border.

Although Kerry denounced these actions and called for Russia to stop there involvement, the Russians have responded only with blame aimed at the Ukrainian government. Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister for Russia said that Kerry, and the world must, “take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian speaking population.” He also blamed these uprisings on the failures of the new Ukrainian government.

Sweden’s Foreign Minister took to Tweeter to express his beliefs, and condemn the rising action. Carl Bildt is in the Ukraine this weekend, and wrote that these uprisings show “a coordinated armed action to seize control over key parts of Eastern Ukraine.” He also added unambiguously that these actions would not have happened with Russian involvement.

The other uprisings include the overnight attack on the Kramatorsk police station. A video shows armed men storming the building, dressed completely in camouflage. Another incident occurred in Donetsk where a group of Pro-Russians seized another police station. Demands have not been revealed in Donetsk but the chief of police in the area said that he was forced to resign. Images show a barricade has been set up around the building and that the Russian flag is flying nearby.

Responses from the EU and the United States have been limited to condemning Russian involvement in this matter. The Ukrainian government has said that it will repel these attackers, a process which was perhaps begun with an armed confrontation that left at least one officer for Ukraine’s special services dead.

By Nick Manai