US warns Russia against instigating separatist tensions in Ukraine.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry warned Kiev on Tuesday that any use of force in Ukraine’s eastern region could lead to civil war, as Ukraine’s government seeks to regain control after pro-Moscow uprisings in three cities, CNN informs.
Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in the three cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv on Sunday. Rebels occupying Donetsk’s regional government building Monday declared a “people’s republic” and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11.
The ministry alleged that what it called “American experts from the private military organization Greystone,” disguised as soldiers, as well as militants from the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector, had joined Ukrainian forces preparing for the crackdown in the country’s east.
Late Monday, Ukrainian special forces cleared armed protesters from the headquarters of Ukrainian security services in Donetsk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov’s office announced Monday night.
But Ukraine’s interim Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema was quoted by Russian state-run news agency ITAR-Tass as saying Tuesday that the authorities are not going to storm the city’s regional administration building.
A CNN team on the ground said that pro-Russian protesters appear still to be in control of the building and that there is no sign of special forces nearby.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for acting Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said an anti-terrorist operation in Kharkiv had ended with the arrest of about 70 people. Special forces police from outside of Kharkiv carried out the operation, in which all those arrested were armed with knives or batons, spokeswoman Natalia Stativko said.
In Luhansk, pro-Russian demonstrators remain inside the Security Services Building, Syumar said.
On Monday, Turchynov blamed “separatist groups coordinated by Russian special services” for the revolts, which he said echoed events leading to the Russian annexation of Crimea three weeks ago. “Enemies of Ukraine are trying to play out the Crimean scenario, but we will not let this happen,” Turchynov said in a televised message.
Turchynov reiterated Tuesday that he would treat Russian separatists who have seized buildings in the east of the country as “terrorists” who will be prosecuted with the full force of the law.
According to the Voice of America, the United States has warned Russia against stirring separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine, following unrest in several cities in recent days. U.S. officials said there are clear signs that pro-Russian demonstrations were orchestrated from outside.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said yesterday the southeastern parts of Ukraine should be included in talks about the country’s future, VoA reports. He told reporters Tuesday in Moscow that Russia wants to see those regions, which are largely Russian-speaking, represented in multilateral talks.
In Paris, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned that further Russian intervention in Ukraine would be a “historic mistake” that would further isolate Russia from the world.