Ukrainian Forces Move In On Pro-Russian Gunmen
By Harold Hutchison
Ukrainian forces are reportedly moving in on armed pro-Russian individuals who have seized over a half-dozen police headquarters building in various cities and towns in eastern Ukraine. The operation comes amidst rising tensions in the country.
|Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov.
(Photo by State Department)
According to media reports, Ukraine’s acting President, Oleksandr Turchynov, described the “antiterrorist”
operation was beginning last night – about a day after an ultimatum to the protesters had expired. The ultimatum had been issued after reports of at least one firefight had taken place between Ukrainian security forces and the pro-Russian gunmen, who were in camouflage fatigues without any insignia, and carrying AK-100-series rifles, which entered Russian service after the fall of the Soviet Union.
“The Russian Federation is sending special units to the east of our country, which seize administrative buildings with the use of weapons and are putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of our citizens in danger,” Turchynov said.
One Ukrainian general vowed that any gunmen who did not surrender would face dire consequences. “They must be warned that if they do not lay down their arms, they will be destroyed,” General Valeriy Krutov of the Ukrainian Security Service vowed. Some media reports indicated that Ukrainian forces were on the move. A reporter for the Associated Press noted that over a dozen Ukrainian armored personnel carriers (APCs) and a helicopter were seen moving towards one town controlled by pro-Russian gunmen.
|Ukrainian T-64. (photo by Wikipedia user Varga Attila)
Much of the Ukraine’s gear is from prior to the fall of the Soviet Union, including over 1,000 T-64 main battle tanks and another 1,000 T-72s in reserve. The Ukraine also has over 2,000 BMP-series infantry fighting vehicles, and over 1,500 BTR-series APCs.
As the tensions increased over the weekend, the destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) was buzzed by a Russian Su-24 Fencer. The incident lasted an hour and a half. Meanwhile, the Obama Administration is still refusing to provide the Ukraine with non-lethal aid like body armor, intelligence, radios, and fuel.