Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said Kyiv is “helpless” against the pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine. These forces seized government buildings, kidnapped journalists and politicians, and attacked peaceful pro-Ukrainian rallies.
At first, Kyiv started an anti-terrorist operation for the east, but it only saw minimal success. The situation is worsening and now the government has to change their approach to the crisis.
“I will be frank: Today, security forces are unable to quickly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control,” Turchynov said at a meeting with regional governors.
“The security bodies … are unable to carry out their duties of protecting citizens. They are helpless in those matters. Moreover, some of those units are either helping or cooperating with terrorist organizations.”
“Mercenaries and special units that are active on Ukrainian territory have been tasked with attacking those regions. That is why I am stressing: our task is to stop the spread of the terrorist threat first of all in the Kharkiv and Odessa regions,” Turchynov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Around 5AM in Horlivka, men in camouflage captured the city council building. A Reuters reporter saw armed gunmen joined them when the sun was rising, but all refused to be photographed. Employees arrived at 7:30AM and a few managed to negotiate with the gunmen to allow them to work.
On Tuesday, Luhansk almost completely fell to the pro-Russian forces. Gunmen seized the regional government’s headquarters without any opposition. According to Reuters, riot police protected the back of the building, but no one patrolled the front. The gunmen walked through the front door and raised the Russian flag. After that seizure, gunmen captured the prosecutor’s office and television center then opened fire on the police station with automatic rifles. Protesters burned the Ukrainian flag as police stood around.
Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, said of Luhansk: “The regional leadership does not control its police force. The local police did nothing.”
The pro-Russian forces have also kidnapped journalists, politicians and military observers. American journalist Simon Ostrovsky of VICE News was held for four days before they released him. The forces are still holding seven of the eight OSCE members they kidnapped after one was released for medical reasons. Ukrainian Deputy Volodymyr Rybak was found dead in a river with a sandbag around his waist and his stomach slashed open.
Turchynov also announced Ukraine troops on the border are on full combat alert in case Russia invades. Katya Gorchinskaya from The Kyiv Post visited troops in Chernihiv Oblast and found 3,000 soldiers along the border. The soldiers told Gorchinskaya they did not believe the Russian Defense Ministry when they said Russian troops pulled away from the border. Ukraine troops prepared, “digging out trenches, setting up concrete blocks on the road and tightening border crossing procedures in conjunction with the state Security Service, as well as increasing patrols and mobilizing additional troops.” The soldiers know war could start at any time.
“To be honest I said goodbye to my wife the second time we got a battle alarm. I thought the state fed me and clothed me for 10 years, so maybe it’s time for me to pay off my duty,” says Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Dudko.