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Ukraine to launch anti-terror operation

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president Oleksandr Turchynov says the country is to launch a "large-scale anti-terrorist operation" to resist Russia's aggression.

Turchynov said in a live televised address from the parliament that authorities in Kiev will not allow the "repetition of the Crimean scenario."

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula last month after local residents voted overwhelming to secede from Ukraine and seek to join Russia in a hastily called referendum.

Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city Sunday, with at least one security officer killed and five others wounded. It was the first reported gunbattle in eastern Ukraine, where armed pro-Russia men have seized a number of government buildings in recent days.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post that a Security Service officer was killed in Slovyansk, where the police station and the Security Service office were seized a day earlier by camouflaged armed men. He also reported a number of casualties among the militia, but did not offer a number.

An Associated Press reporter found a bullet-ridden SUV on the side of the road and a pool of blood on the passenger seat where the gunbattle was supposed to have taken place.

Vladimir Kolodchenko, a lawmaker from the area who witnessed the attack, said a car with four gunmen pulled up on the road in a wooden area outside Slovyansk and open fire on Ukrainian soldiers who were standing beside their vehicles. Both attackers and the Ukrainian servicemen left soon after the shooting.

Unrest has spread to several municipalities in eastern Ukraine, including the major industrial city of Donetsk, which has a large Russian-speaking population.

Donetsk was also the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president ousted in February following months of protests in Kiev, the capital, that were ignited by his decision to back away from closer relations with the European Union and turn toward Russia. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine's east widely fear that the new pro-Western Ukrainian government will suppress them.

The regional administration in Donetsk issued a statement, confirming one dead and saying nine were wounded. It did not identify them, but said one person was shot outside Slovyansk.

Avakov has described the unrest as "Russian aggression."

Ukraine's foreign ministry issued a statement late Sunday afternoon accusing "the Russian special service and saboteurs" of fomenting unrest and pledged to present "concrete evidence" of Russia's involvement at next week's Ukraine summit in Geneva.

In an earlier post, he said the separatists who had seized the buildings in Slovyansk had opened fire on Ukrainian special forces sent to the city on Sunday. He called on residents to remain calm and stay at home.

An Associated Press reporter saw no signs of any shots fired at the police station, which was surrounded by a reinforced line of barricades. Unlike on Saturday, the men patrolling the barricades were largely unarmed. One of the guards who asked not to be identified denied reports of fighting at the police station.

Armed camouflaged men were guarding a checkpoint at the main entrance into the city.

Ukrainian lawmaker Oleh Lyashko said Sunday afternoon that Ukrainian forces managed to take control of the city hall, the Security Service's branch and the police station in Slovyansk. This could not be immediately verified.

In a phone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "expressed strong concern" that the attacks "were orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea," according the State Department. Kerry "made clear that if Russia didn't take steps to de-escalate in eastern Ukraine and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, there would be additional consequences," the department said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denied Kerry's claims, while Lavrov blamed the crisis in Ukraine on the failure of the Ukrainian government "to take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population," the ministry said. Lavrov also warned that Russia may pull out of next week's Ukraine summit if Kiev uses force against "residents of the southeast who were driven to despair."

Two rival rallies in another regional capital in eastern Ukraine, Kharkiv, turned violent. At the end of both rallies, a group of pro-Russian protesters followed several pro-Ukrainian activists, beating them with bats and sticks, Interfax Ukraine reported. A video on Espresso TV showed one activist with blood on his head and hands waiting for paramedics on the steps of the underground passage. Several men and women came up to him and started kicking him.

Interfax quoted Kharkiv authorities saying that 10 people were injured at the rallies.

In Slovyansk, the mayor said Saturday the men who seized the police station were demanding a referendum on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia. Protesters in other eastern cities have made similar demands after a referendum in Crimea last month in which voters opted to split off from Ukraine, leading to annexation by Russia.

Overnight, the interior minister reported an attack on a police station in the nearby city of Kramatorsk. A video from local news website Kramatorsk.info showed a group of camouflaged men armed with automatic weapons storming the building. The news website also reported that supporters of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic have occupied the administration building, built a barricade with tires around it and put a Russian flag nearby.

Regional news website OstroV said three key administrative buildings have been seized in another city in the area, Enakiyeve. In Mariupol, a city south of Donetesk on the Azov Sea and just 50 kilometers (30 miles) away from the Russian border, the city hall was seized by armed masked men. Local news website 0629.com.ua said 1,000 protesters were building a barricade around it while unknown armed men raised the Russian flag over the building.

On Saturday in Donetsk, the regional capital, witnesses said the men who entered the police building were wearing the uniforms of the Berkut, the feared riot police squad that was disbanded in February after Yanukovych's ouster. Berkut officers' violent dispersal of a demonstration in Kiev in November set off the mass protests that culminated in bloodshed in February when more than 100 people died in sniper fire. The acting government says the snipers were police.

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Torak April 13 2014 at 12:25 PM

It just keeps getting more and more interesting.

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1 reply
fairway7000 Torak April 13 2014 at 9:01 PM

Ah yes, verrrrrrryy interrrrestingggg..............but Stupid....!

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CornStove7 April 13 2014 at 1:38 PM

Unless the Ukraine army and military takes ahold and drives the planned Russian protesters out of the cities, it is only a matter of time that Russia will take over the whole country with another referendum vote. If Ukraine has no energy alternative other than Russian Gas lines, then they are forever held in hostage ... the end is inevitable. Russia know the US and NATO want no war so they are proceeding as planned and no one will be there to stop them. Sanctions are just a weak resistance.

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Ray April 13 2014 at 1:07 PM

We were amply warned that this President (Obama) would be tested by other world leaders.
This has happened! And yes, Obama is ending wars and keeping us out of wars. BUT, having said that...Obama has allowed a "tinderbox" to develope. We should make no mistake that Russia is now testing Obama and "words" will not work.The US is now seen around the world as WEAK.
bY SENDING SIGNALS THAT WE WILL NO LONGER FIGHT FOR WHAT IS RIGHT, we become sitting ducks in this standoff. I am scared now for my country.

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2 replies
linmarco Ray April 13 2014 at 1:41 PM

I'm curious? Are we seen as weak because we won't go to war with Russia or are we seen as weak because we are going through the world body to confront it about its behavior? Short of going to war with Russia I'd like to know what can be done that's not being done. People forget that Putin, Obama, Secretary Kerry, Russia's foreign minister, Western Europe heads of state, et cetera are all privy to information the rest of the world isn't. The press gives out info and we react. Sometimes it's right and sometimes not. Those that dislike Obama-not disagree because voters should disagree when they have a grievance- will still dislike him if he sends troops or opts to negotiate as he is presently doing. Either way it doesn't matter.
He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

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vigoddess Ray April 13 2014 at 2:38 PM

You are right to be scared Ray, but no matter how many people blame Obama
for everything, including their car not starting, he is a brillian strategist. The
proof being that he got Bin Laden, and has protected our country from
terrorists no matter how many people cried out about NSA. The Internet
knows everything about you, too, but blaming the President has become
the only agenda of a political party. The Boston Marathon slipped through
because we are allowing too many students into the USA, so blame the
universities that do not report those that are not showing up for classes
by simply taking attendance, but Obama can't do it alone. No man can
run a country alone. What is far better handling a dictator that wants
to be Napoleon? Russia is the biggest provider of wheat in the world,
and if the countries stop buying it - it's a far better weapon than taking
lives of young men and women. We have to stop being armchair
critics and stand together. The "tinderbox" you speak of wasn't started
by Obama. It was the political arrows and people attacking him that
showed weakness to the world.

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Escalonz April 13 2014 at 1:03 PM

to take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population,"..................If they speak Russian and have the Russian sentiments why do they choose to live in the Ukraine? Language as an excuse to invade is as imbecilic as imbecilic can possibly be. Dare we say confused logic of a dictator who hides his devious activities under the cloak of a counterfeit democracy? The sooner this ego maniac is out of the world picture the safer the world will be.

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phoenix44al April 13 2014 at 1:08 PM

The Ukrainians have suffered since the days of the Ottoman's Empire, then the Czars and under Stalin's Russia tens of thousands or even millions were slaughtered. They have all but lost their identity. Right now the US and the Europeans are giving very marginal and minimal support, especially the European Nations. The Ukrainians need to have some national pride and every able man and women should be mobilized to defend their homeland against all odds, if not, Putin will take that nation over in piece meals. His strategy and excuse is straight our from Hitler's text book. Unless the West start to arm the Ukrainians to fight for themselves they will succumb like all the Eastern European Nations under Hitler. History repeats itself, more often than we think.

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patamcc April 14 2014 at 9:03 PM

Don't worry Obama has a plan, he'll offer Obama Care to Ukraine. Of course, the only option will be to accept the plan. Even Putin can sign up. Why not? It's FREE!!!!!

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s0nnymock April 13 2014 at 2:06 PM

This is gonna be tough. There is a cry for freedom from the Russian, Ukrainians that is going unheard by the Pro-Western Ukrainians. The Russian, Ukrainians want to be a part of Russians but the Ukrainians are trying to block their path. You can easily understand their desire, Russia is a world power. Blocking their path would lead to civil war. We had a similiar situation here in our hemishpere about 50 years ago when Cubans wanted out of Cuba. Cuba eased the tension by allowing all of the Cubans that wanted out of Cuba sail to America without restriction.

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mike April 13 2014 at 1:04 PM

Love my country the U.S. I wish we operated like the good old Reagan days. He would have gave them 30 mdays to retreat . or else theU.S. Navy would have pulled into the Black Sea. he would have sent Marine( Peace keepers in the interior of Ukraine armed to the teeth0 ( peace keepers my ass)lolo. Thats what he would have done . things would have been different.

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4 replies
CDC SORA April 13 2014 at 1:21 PM

Why must the US fight everywhere? Keep our troops here!

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1 reply
cwb0804 CDC SORA April 13 2014 at 1:36 PM

Exactly what they said about Hitler and Togo. Let's appease them!

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sjames11038 April 13 2014 at 1:02 PM

This is no suprise, You know as I do , that the ruuians will move in to Ukrain sooner or later. Sa fare as I'm comcerned the pesadent of this county has given the russians the ok to do so. When he said we will not send american force to protect Ukrain.
we cam blame the democrates for this mess, starting with Truman. after world war 2 , General Patton wanted to end the threat of russa but Truman wont allow it. then in 1950 in korea General Mcauther crossed the yell river and was going to kick the chinesses ass and was doing it . When Truman once again stopped it and fired Mcauther. Now obama letting the Russains do as they wish. when will the Democrats stand up to these people like JFK did back in the 60s

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