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Ukraine Blog

Follow the latest developments as Ukraine attempts to deal with pro-Russian separatists in the country's east.

  • Russia demands Security Council meeting on Ukraine:

    The UN Security Council plans to meet in emergency session on Friday on Ukraine after Russia called for a public meeting on the growing crisis there.

    The Russian mission to the United Nations tweeted that Russia asked for what will be the council's 13th meeting on the crisis, and the spokesman's office for the UN secretary-general confirmed that the open meeting would be at noon (1600 GMT). [AP]
  • Russian authorities meanwhile said they held Kiev and its Western allies directly responsible for the bloodshed in the city. That's also according to a Reuters report.

    Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it - Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.


  • A woman lays flowers at the burned trade union building in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa [AFP]

  • Reuters is citing Ukraine security sources as saying:

    Heavy fighting in eastern town of Kramatorsk, south of rebel stronghold of Slovyansk.

  • Two fairly significant statements from Ukraine authorities today:

    The first was the SBU security service saying that fighters from Transnistria, a pro-Russia autonomous state in Moldova, had crossed into Ukraine and incited clashes in Odessa, in the southern region of Ukraine.

    Then, Vasyl Krutov, the head of Ukraine's "anti-terrorist centre" said this of the clashes in the east of the country: "
    What we are facing in the Donetsk region and in the eastern regions is not just some kind of short-lived uprising, it is in fact a war."


  • Seven monitors for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were today released by separatists in Slovyansk. This video shows Russia’s official envoy to Ukraine, Vladimir Lukin, speaking on the release of the observers. Some of the observers are seen from 4 minutes in. I can't give you a translation I'm afraid.
  • This video, posted by Виктор Фрис on Youtube, shows just one section of the clashes in Odessa yesterday. Police face an intense assault of bricks and petrol bombs after forming a riot line in an alleyway. They are eventually forced back to a barricade as protesters throw hundreds of missiles.

    WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS SCENES OF VIOLENCE AND INJURY.

  • EU urges 'utmost restraint' following deaths in Ukraine's Odessa.
    [AFP]
  • Ukraine's president declares three days of mourning after 46 people were killed
    in the eastern port city of Odessa on Friday.


    [Al Jazeera]

  • A woman argues with members from the Ukrainian Interior Ministry security forces during a rally outside a trade union building in Odessa [Reuters] 


  • Police station attacked in Odessa:

    Participants of a rally attack a city police department as they demand the release of people arrested after recent street battles between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian supporters in the Black Sea port of Odessa.

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk accused Russia on Sunday of engineering clashes in Odessa that led to the deaths of more than 40 pro-Russian activists in a blazing building and pushed the country closer to civil war. 

    [Reuters]

  • A pro-Russia protester waves a Donbass flag from the top of the district council building in Donetsk:

    [Reuters] 



  • Putin, Merkel discuss Ukraine, gas supply in telephone call-Kremlin:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Ukraine crisis in a telephone call and stressed the importance of "effective international action" to reduce tension, the Kremlin said on Sunday. 

    The leaders also discussed the supply of Russian gas and its transit, based on the results of a recent meeting in Warsaw.
    [Reuters]

  • A man (C), who is accused by pro-Russia protesters of being a "provokator", stands outside the district council building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine [Reuters]
    A Ukranian flag falls after it was thrown by pro-Russia protesters from the top of the district council building in Donetsk [Reuters]
    Pro-Russia protesters climb with a Donbass flag at the military prosecutor's office building in Donetsk [Reuters] 
     
     

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  • At least two separatist armoured personnel carriers and several rebels fled heavy fighting on the eastern outskirts of the pro-Russian rebel stronghold of Slovyansk in Ukraine on Monday.

    Heavy gunfire could be heard almost continuously and seemed closer to the centre of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine than a day earlier, a Reuters correspondent said. Four ambulances were seen near the area.

    [Reuters]
  • Russia warned on Monday that Europe's peace was at risk over the escalating crisis in Ukraine, where deadly fighting raged around a flashpoint eastern city and the interim president warned of "war".

    European leaders fearing all-out civil war was breaking out on their eastern flank have launched a desperate new peace bid, trying to force Ukraine and Russia to find a negotiated solution before it is too late.

    The chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Didier Burkhalter, was due in Moscow on Wednesday amid calls for his group to mediate between Kiev and the separatists in the east.

    But events on the grounds were overtaking the diplomatic initiative.

    Fierce exchanges of fire were taking place to the east and south of the town of Slovyansk, the epicentre of the armed rebellion, as Ukrainian troops corralled pro-Russian gunmen towards the centre for what could be a devastating showdown.

    [AFP]
  • Fighting in east Ukraine kills 4 troops, wounds 30:

    Ukraine's Interior Ministry says 4 officers have been killed and 30 wounded in gunbattles with pro-Russia militants occupying the eastern city of Slovyansk.

    A statement on the ministry's website on Monday did not give further details about how those officers died. But a separate statement said Ukrainian troops had started an "anti-terrorist operation" Monday morning against the pro-Russia forces, which numbered around 800.
  • Relatives mourn 21-year-old nurse Yulia Izotova at her funeral in Kramatorsk: 


    Witnesses say Izotova was killed by shots from a Ukrainian military column on the road from Slovyansk to Kramatorsk.


  • Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reporting from Slovyansk:

    "When the Ukrainian military launched this operation on Thursday morning, pro-Russia groups put up roadblocks which the Ukraine troops have since been burning and dismantling, meaning they could push into the city today and engage in gun battles with heavily armed pro-Russia elements within the city."


  • Last-ditch diplomacy as Ukraine fighting spreads:

    Western powers on Wednesday launched a desperate last-gasp drive for a diplomatic solution to stop Ukraine sliding into civil war, as fighting spread closer to the Russian border.

    The head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, was to meet Russian leader Vladimir Putin after Moscow quashed a German-led plan for new peace talks.

    And Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague held talks in Kiev, as the Western-backed government there stepped up its military offensive to seize back a string of eastern towns and cities under the control of pro-Russian gunmen. [AFP]
  • by Tamila Varshalomidze via YouTube

    Ukraine's security service claims to have obtained "conclusive evidence proving that the Russian Federation is preparing and coordinating activities aimed at holding in the eastern Ukraine  of a so-called 'referendum' on creation of the Donetsk People's Republic".

    The service published a telephone conversation online that allegedly took place on May 5 between a leader of the Russian National Unity movement and One of the leaders of the pro-Russian Orthodox Donbas organisation.
  • A senior UN diplomat has arrived in Kiev 

    Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, met with Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov early on Wednesday. [AP]
  • Ukraine's security services (SBU) say 14 military servicemen have died and 66 have been injured since the start of "anti-terrorist operation" until May 6 in the country's east. [Interfax-Ukraine]


  • Ukraine presidential hopeful: zero tolerance for terrorists

    A leading contender in Ukraine's upcoming presidential election says some pro-Russian insurgents in the east of the country only understand "the language of force."

    Billionaire chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko said on Wednesday, on a trip to Berlin where he was to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, that restoring law and order in the east is a priority and he wants to see economic conditions in the heavily Russian-speaking region improved.

    But he says there must be "zero tolerance" for armed separatists who have seized several towns and engaged fought with government forces.

    Poroshenko, a front-runner in the May 25 election, says he would be ready to negotiate further decentralisation of power in Ukraine and hold a referendum, provided it is free and fair. [AP]


  • Hague: 'Blow to democracy' if Russia prevents Ukraine election

    Russia is deploying covert fighters and "enormous propaganda" to prevent Ukraine holding a presidential election later this month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Wednesday during a visit to Kiev.

    If Moscow succeeds, it would be "a terrible blow to democracy," said Hague, who accused Russia of engineering an independence referendum in Ukraine's east this weekend to undermine the May 25 presidential poll. [AFP]
  • Poll shows Ukrainians want a unified country

    A strong majority of Ukrainians, including those in the largely Russian-speaking east, want their country to remain a unified state. A recent poll by the Pew Research Centre in Washington found that 77 percent of people nationwide want Ukraine to maintain its current borders, and even in the east the figure is 70 percent. [AP]

    [Pew Research Centre] 

  • Russia has ordered Ukraine to pay for all of its future natural gas deliveries up front.

    Thursday's announcement imperils supplies to a large parts of the EU because nearly 15 percent of all Russian gas consumed by the 28-nation bloc transits through Ukraine. [AFP]


  • France slams "illegal referendums" calls by Ukraine separatists France on Friday attacked calls by separatists for self-rule referendums in Ukraine.

    "France in particular condemns the decision by separatists in eastern Ukraine to hold illegal referendums," Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement. "The immediate priority is de-escalation, commitment to national dialogue and preparation of May 25 elections." [Reuters]
  • Crimea celebrates Victory Day

    Crimeans marked the anniversary of the World War II victory over Nazi Germany with a parade in Sevastopol.

    Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, also made his first visit to the region since Moscow annexed it in March.

    Ukraine's government on Friday protested Putin's visit to Crimea, where he inspected Russian naval forces as a way of commemorating the Soviet victory in World War II.

    "Ukraine expresses its strong protest over the unapproved May 9 visit by Russian President, Vladimir Putin, to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and to Sevastopol city, which are temporarily occupied by Russia," the country's foreign ministry said in a statement.

    [AP] 
    [AP] 
    [AP] 
    [AP] 
    [AP] 
     
     

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  • Ukraine's foreign ministry has condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Crimea as a deliberate escalation of the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia. [Reuters]

    Putin gives a speech to commemorate Victory Day in Moscow before making his first visit to Crimea since its annexation from Ukraine. The Ukraine's foreign ministry called Putin's trip to the region "yet another confirmation that Russia is deliberately pursuing further escalation of tensions in Ukrainian-Russian relations. [Image:AP/Caption:Reuters]

  • Vladimir Putin has hailed Crimea's return to Russia as an "historic truth" while making his first visit to the region since Moscow annexed it from Ukraine in March.
    2014 will go down in history...as the year when people living here firmly decided to be together with Russia, thus confirming their loyalty to historic truth.
    - Vladimir Putin, speaking to a cheering crowd in the port city of Sevastopol.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed the annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea during a visit, which coincides with the anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.

    To find out more about Putin's visit to Crimea, click here.


  • Ukrainian leader Oleksander Turchinov has warned pro-Russian eastern regions that they would be stepping into the abyss if they voted for self-rule in a referendum scheduled  for Sunday.

    He said secession from Ukraine "would be a step into the abyss for these regions... Those who stand for self-rule do not understand that it would mean complete destruction of the economy, social programmes and life in general for the majority of the population."

    "A dreadful terror is in train with the support of a large part of the local population," Turchinov said. "It is a complex problem when a population deceived by [Russian] propaganda support terrorists."

    Barricades of tyres and scrap metal blocked streets in the port city of Mariupol and in Slaviansk, centres of an uprising that has unleashed the worst crisis between the West and Russia since the Cold War. There was a clash between army and rebels near Slaviansk late on Saturday, but fighting had largely abated.

    Ballot papers have been printed with no security provision and the meaning of the question - asking voters if they support state 'self-rule' for the People's Republic of Donetsk - is, perhaps deliberately, unclear.

    [Reuters]

  • All People stand in a line to cast ballots into a portable ballot box during the referendum on the status of Donetsk region in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol May 11, 2014.
    by AJE Staff
    A local resident casts his ballot into a portable ballot box during the referendum on the status of Luhansk region in the village of Ternovoe outside Luhansk, eastern Ukraine May 11, 2014.
    by AJE Staff
     
     

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  • East Ukrainian rebels have pressed ahead with a referendum on self-rule on as new fighting flares in a conflict that has raised fears of civil war and pitched relations between Russia and the West into their worst crisis since the Cold War.

    Clashes broke out overnight around a television tower on the outskirts of Slovyansk, the most heavily defended rebel redoubt. They resumed in the morning just before voters made their way to polling stations through streets blocked by barricades of felled trees, tyres and rusty machinery.

    "I wanted to come as early as I could. We all want to live in our own country," said Zhenya Denyesh, a 20-year-old student voting at a three-storey concrete and glass university building.

    Asked what he thought would come after the vote, he replied: "It will still be war."

    [Reuters]

  • Timeline - The past five days:

    May 7: In surprise announcement, Putin calls for rebel independence referendums to be pushed back and endorses Ukraine's planned presidential election. Says Russian troops pulled back from border. New overall toll from Ukrainian military operations stands at 14 servicemen dead.

    May 8: Rebels vow to press on with referendums despite Putin's call. Russia conducts military exercises, test-fires several missiles, says nuclear capabilities on "constant combat alert." NATO says there is no sign of a Russian troop pull-back.

    May 9: Putin flies to annexed Crimea after overseeing display of military  might in Red Square where he paid tribute to Russia's "all-conquering patriotic force." Clashes break out in Mariupol that the interior minister says leave 21 dead.

    May 10: France and Germany threaten to step up sanctions against Russia if the May 25 election is disrupted. Also urge Kiev to cease "offensive" operations before the vote.

    May 11: "Referendums" held in the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk. Fighting is reported around Sloyvansk as rebels try to retake TV tower.


  • Ukraine separatist says will form own state bodies, military after vote:

    A separatist leader from Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region said it would form its own state bodies and consider government soldiers there as "occupiers" once results were announced from Sunday's self-rule referendum, Interfax news agency said. 


    "All military troops on our territory after the official announcement of referendum results will be considered illegal and declared occupiers."


    Denis Pushilin, a leader of the self-styled Donetsk republic
  • Van Rompuy pledges support to Kiev:

    For the first time in the months-long crisis, one of the EU's top officials, Council president Herman Van Rompuy who represents the bloc's 28 leaders, will fly to Ukraine on Monday to meet the interim government.

    "I will travel to Kiev," he said in a statement "to continue our talks on how to stabilise the situation in Ukraine ahead of the presidential elections on 25 May, how to put an end to violence in Ukraine, and how to create an inclusive national dialogue."

    [AFP]

    by Philippa Stewart edited by AJE Staff 5/11/2014 5:57:43 PM
  • Al Jazeera's Paul Brennan reports an exchange of fire in Donetsk that authorities say killed one person.
    More soon.
  • One reported dead in Ukraine: 

    Alleged Ukrainian national guardsmen opened fire Sunday on a crowd outside a town hall in eastern Ukraine and an official for the region's insurgents said there were fatalities.

    The bloodshed in the town of Krasnoarmeisk occurred hours after dozens of guardsmen shut down voting in a referendum on sovereignty for the region.

    Denis Pushilin was quoted by the ITAR-Tass news agency as saying there were an unspecified number of deaths.

    [AP]
  • A senior Russian politician said on Sunday he had brought to Moscow a petition by residents of Moldova's Russian-speaking, breakaway region of Transdniestria backing union with Russia.


    "The Russian delegation has ... brought home the appeal to the Russian authorities by Transdniestrians. And even if it's of symbolic rather than legal character it is now important to us."



    Dmitry Rogozin
  • Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans said he expected the European Union to agree to expand sanctions against Russia over Ukraine on Monday.

    "I believe so," he told reporters when asked whether EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels on Monday, would agree to expand the sanctions list.

    Diplomats have told Reuters some 14 people and two Crimea-based companies could be targeted with sanctions at the meeting.

    [Reuters]

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