[QODLink]
Europe

Ukraine's east braces for military operation

Deadline for separatists to disarm and evacuate state buildings passes, as threat of "anti-terrorist" operation looms.

Last updated: 14 Apr 2014 08:23
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The separatists maintained their barricades into Monday's deadline [Reuters]

Towns in eastern Ukraine are bracing for military action from government forces as a deadline passed for pro-Russian separatists to disarm and end their occupation of state buildings or face a major "anti-terrorist" operation.

As the 9am deadline issued by authorities in Kiev expired on Monday, Reuters news agency reported that there was no outward sign the rebels were complying with the ultimatum in the city of Slovyansk.

Angered by the death of a state security officer and the wounding of two comrades near Slovyansk, acting president Oleksander Turchinov warned rebels on Sunday that a full-scale security operation that would include the army, would be unleashed unless they met the deadline.

Turchinov and other leaders blame Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea region when Moscow-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich fled after months of pro-Western protests, for inspiring and organising a rash of rebellion in Slovyansk and other Russian-speaking towns in eastern Ukraine.

"We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of Ukraine," Turchinov said on Sunday night.

The crisis has brought relations between Russia and Western countries to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War in 1991, and also carries a risk of unleashing a "gas war" which could disrupt energy supplies across Europe.

Use of force by Kiev's pro-Europe authorities could trigger a fresh confrontation from Russia. Russia's foreign ministry called the planned military operation a "criminal order" and said Western countries should bring their allies in Ukraine's government under control.

The United Nations Security Council held an emergency session on Sunday night, and the US warned that it was likely to impose further sanctions on the Kremlin if the escalation in eastern Ukraine continues.

Rebels maintain barricades

In Slovyansk as of 9am local time on Monday, a Russian flag still flew over police headquarters, one of two buildings taken over by the separatists, while masked men continued to man barricades of sandbags in front.

Even as the deadline passed, a truck appeared bringing more tyres to heap on top of the barricades to reinforce them.

There was tension in the air as people tried to go about their normal business, though school and colleges have been closed and parents advised to keep their children indoors.

European Union foreign ministers were due to meet in Strasbourg on Monday to discuss Ukraine.

411

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list