Pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine are not giving up even though Ukraine tanks have been spotted. Interim President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament the anti-terrorist operation he promised on Sunday started in north Donetsk.
These forces took over 10 government buildings in many cities in Donetsk Oblast since Saturday. The focus on Tuesday was Sloviansk where one Ukrainian officer was killed and five law enforcement agents were wounded on Saturday. The airport was seized on Monday. One Associated Press reporter is in Sloviansk.
An Associated Press reporter saw at least 14 armored personnel carriers with Ukrainian flags, one helicopter and military trucks parked 40 kilometers (24 miles) north of the city on Tuesday. Other heavy military equipment appeared to be parked in a nearby area off limits to journalists.
Government troops at a checkpoint at the spot, located outside the town of Izyum, searched vehicles driving in and out for weapons.
Roads into Slovyansk were dotted with militia’s checkpoints, at least one with a Russian flag. Another bore a sign reading “If we don’t do it, nobody will.”
Turchynov and the West blame Russia for the attacks, but the Kremlin denies any involvement. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said they have evidence that links Russia and will present it on April 17 in Geneva. One gunmen who led the siege in Horlivka on Monday claimed he is a Russian army lieutenant. He could not provide the proper documentation to support the claim, but did produce a Russian passport.
President Obama spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday and warned him there will be consequences if Russia does not stop the aggression towards Ukraine. The White House and State Department did not release details of the consequences, but if they are sanctions it would be the fourth round and more than likely hit the energy sector. After Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine on March 21, Obama finally sanctioned those in Putin’s inner circle and his preferred bank.