Kiev: Forces 'helpless' to restore order in East

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Kiev: Forces 'helpless' to restore order in East
Pro-Russian insurgents aim their rifles during fighting around the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched air strikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Smoke rises from the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched airstrikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Pro-Russian insurgents carrying weapons arrive near the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched airstrikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Pro-Russian insurgents with weapons arrive near the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched airstrikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Pro-Russian insurgents on a truck carrying weapons arrive near the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched airstrikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
A pro-Russian insurgent aims his rifle during fighting around the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched air strikes Monday against separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern capital of Donetsk in what appeared to be the most visible operation of the Ukrainian troops since they started a crackdown on insurgents last month. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Ukrainian policeman and soldiers in a tank stand guard at their newly erected checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainain city of Slavyansk on April 25, 2014. Ukraine's army on April 25 launched an operation to ensnare pro-Russia militants in the flashpoint eastern city of Slavyansk in a bid to prevent reinforcements and keep civilian casualties down, authorities said. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Ukraianian soldier in a tank looks on at their newly erected checkpoint near the eastern Ukrainain city of Slavyansk on April 25, 2014. Ukraine's army on April 25 launched an operation to ensnare pro-Russia militants in the flashpoint eastern city of Slavyansk in a bid to prevent reinforcements and keep civilian casualties down, authorities said. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Russian armed man in military fatigues stands guard outside the security service (SBU) regional building which was seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on April 25, 2014. Seven members of an OSCE observer mission in Ukraine were seized by rebels today and being held in the eastern flashpoint town of Slavyansk, the interior ministry in Kiev said. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian armed men in military fatigues stand guard outside the security service (SBU) regional building which was seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, on April 25, 2014. Seven members of an OSCE observer mission in Ukraine were seized by rebels today and being held in the eastern flashpoint town of Slavyansk, the interior ministry in Kiev said. AFP PHOTO / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian self defense unit perform unarmed combat drill at their training ground outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. The unit consists of volunteer residents of the Donetsk region to combat pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk' region. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Ukrainian helicopter flies over a column of Ukrainian Army armored vehicles near Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian forces launched an operation Thursday to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country's tumultuous east, prompting new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Within hours of the Ukrainian operation, which killed at least two pro-Russia militants, Russia's defense minister announced new military exercises for troops massed near Ukraine's border. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
Pro-Ukrainian self defense unit perform weapons exercises at their training ground outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. The unit consists of volunteer residents of the Donetsk region to combat pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk' region. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Elena, the widow of slain council man Volodymr Rybak caresses the face of her husband as his body lays in the coffin prior to his funeral after his body was found on Tuesday after his alleged abduction by pro-Russian insurgents in the eastern city of Horlivka, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Seen through a car window, Ukrainian soldiers block a road near the village of Aleksandrovka, in eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Seen through a car window, Ukrainian soldiers block a road near the village of Aleksandrovka, in eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Seen through a car window, Ukrainian soldiers block a road near the village of Aleksandrovka, in eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Seen through a car window, Ukrainian soldiers inspect a car near the village of Aleksandrovka, in eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Seen through a car window, Ukrainian soldiers block a road near the village of Aleksandrovka, in eastern Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Pro-Russian masked gunmen patrols a street in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A pro-Russian masked gunman patrols a street in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Supporters of Ukrainian soccer team Shakthar Donetsk chants pro-Ukrainian slogans during the soccer match between Shakthar Donetsk and Tavriya Sinferopol, played in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
A pro-Russian masked gunman patrols a street in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Pro-Russian activists guard at a barricade at the regional administration building in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist who has not been seen since early Tuesday. Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for Vice News, has been covering the crisis in Ukraine for weeks and was reporting about groups of masked gunmen seizing government buildings in eastern Ukrainian. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Russian masked gunman mans his post on a street in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding American journalist Simon Ostrovsky, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A pro-Russian masked gunman patrols a street in the center of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Pro-Ukrainian self defense volunteer controls a road on the outskirts of Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. The unit consists of volunteer residents of the Donetsk region to combat pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk' region. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A pro-Ukrainian self defense volunteer watches military exercises at their training ground outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. The unit consists of volunteer residents of the Donetsk region to combat pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk' region. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Ukrainian soldier sits atop of his armored vehicle at a check point near the village of Artemiovska, around 20 km (14 miles) from Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian forces launched an operation Thursday to drive pro-Russia insurgents out of occupied buildings in the country's tumultuous east, prompting new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Within hours of the Ukrainian operation, which killed at least two pro-Russia militants, Russia's defense minister announced new military exercises for troops massed near Ukraine's border. (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
Pro-Russian armed men rest as they guard a checkpoint near Krasny Linam village outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian forces on Thursday killed at least two pro-Russian insurgents in the country’s tumultuous east, an escalation that prompted Russian President Vladimir Putin to threaten unspecified consequences. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A pro Russian masked militant directs traffic at a checkpoint following an attack by Ukrainian troops outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Smoke from burning tires rises as a pro Russian armed militant guards a checkpoint following an attack by Ukrainian troops outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation." (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Pro-Ukrainian self defense unit performs weapons practice at their training ground outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Thursday, April 24, 2014. The unit consists of volunteer residents of the Donetsk region to combat pro-Russian insurgents in the Donetsk' region. Ukrainian government troops moved against pro-Russia forces in the east of the country on Thursday and killed at least two of them in clashes at checkpoints manned by the insurgents, the government and insurgents said. Russian President Vladimir Putin decried what he described as a "punitive operation."(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: A Ukrainian soldier searches a car while he guards a roadblock along the highway on April 24, 2014 near Slovyansk, Ukraine. Today Ukrainian forces began to establish roadblocks around the cities of Slovansk and Donetsk, both strongholds of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine government claims 5 separatists were killed during skirmishes with the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: Ukrainian soldiers guard a roadblock along the highway on April 24, 2014 near Slovyansk, Ukraine. Today Ukrainian forces began to establish roadblocks around the cities of Slovansk and Donetsk, both strongholds of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine government claims 5 separatists were killed during skirmishes with the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: Ukrainian soldiers guard a roadblock along the highway on April 24, 2014 near Slovyansk, Ukraine. Today Ukrainian forces began to establish roadblocks around the cities of Slovansk and Donetsk, both strongholds of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine government claims 5 separatists were killed during skirmishes with the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: Pro-Russian separatist militants fill sand bags to reinforce a checkpoint on April 24, 2014 in Slovyansk, Ukraine. Pro-Russian activists have been occupying government buildings and demanding greater autonomy in many Eastern Ukrainian cities in recent weeks, prompting the government in Kiev to threaten military action to retake control of the cities. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: Ukrainian soldiers guard a roadblock along the highway on April 24, 2014 near Slovyansk, Ukraine. Today Ukrainian forces began to establish roadblocks around the cities of Slovansk and Donetsk, both strongholds of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine government claims 5 separatists were killed during skirmishes with the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE - APRIL 24: A Ukrainian soldier guards a roadblock along the highway on April 24, 2014 near Slovyansk, Ukraine. Today Ukrainian forces began to establish roadblocks around the cities of Slovansk and Donetsk, both strongholds of pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine government claims 5 separatists were killed during skirmishes with the Ukrainian army in Slovyansk today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
SWIDWIN, POLAND - APRIL 23: Members of a Polish paratrooper unit march to assemble prior to the arrival of soldiers of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade at a Polish air force base on April 23, 2014 in Swidwin, Poland. Approximately 150 U.S. troops, as well as another 450 destined for the three Baltic states in coming days, will participate in bilateral military exercises over the coming weeks in a sign of commitment among NATO members. Tensions are rising in eastern Ukraine between Russian separatists and Ukrainian authorities and NATO is seeking to reassure its own members located close to Russia. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
SWIDWIN, POLAND - APRIL 23: Members of the U.S. Army 173rd Airborne Brigade disembark upon their arrival by plane at a Polish air force base on April 23, 2014 in Swidwin, Poland. Approximately 150 U.S. troops, as well as another 450 destined for the three Baltic states in coming days, will participate in bilateral military exercises over the coming weeks in a sign of commitment among NATO members. Tensions are rising in eastern Ukraine between Russian separatists and Ukrainian authorities and NATO is seeking to reassure its own members located close to Russia. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A pro-Russian armed militant guards a checkpoint blocking a major highway which links Kharkiv, outside Slovyansk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. On Monday, some pro-Russians blocked off the road to the airport in Donetsk, a major eastern city, causing delays to many flights. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Pro-Russian insurgents arrive with weapons, near the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Monday, May 26, 2014. Ukraine's military launched airstrikes Monday against the separatists who had taken over the airport in the eastern city of Donetsk, suggesting that fighting in the east is far from over. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
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HORLIVKA, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's police and security forces are "helpless" to quell the unrest in two eastern regions bordering Russia and in some cases are cooperating with the pro-Russia gunmen who have seized scores of buildings and taken people hostage, Ukraine's leader said Wednesday.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said his government's goal now was to prevent the agitation from spreading to other territories in the sprawling nation of 46 million people.

His interim government in Kiev and Western governments have accused Moscow of orchestrating the turmoil in eastern Ukraine, which borders Russia. The United States and the European Union rolled out new economic sanctions against Russia this week but Moscow has remained unbowed, denying its role in the unrest.

Turchynov spoke hours after pro-Russia gunmen seized more administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev city authorities, meanwhile, announced unexpected middle-of-the night security drills running from Wednesday night into Thursday morning by the state guard service. That could alarm the eastern insurgents who favor more independence or even separatism, but also could be aimed at reassuring Ukrainians unsettled by Turchynov's admission of impotence in the east.

At a meeting in Kiev, Turchynov laid out the central security challenge facing Ukraine, instructing regional governors to try to prevent the threat in the east from overtaking central and southern regions.

"I will be frank: Today, security forces are unable to quickly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control," Turchynov said. "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."

He said "mercenaries and special units" were attacking eastern Ukraine.

"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.

The mayor of Kharkiv, who had been credited with keeping Ukraine's second-largest city calm, was shot in the back earlier this week.

Turchynov said the threat of a Russian invasion was real and urged the creation of regional self-defense units throughout the country, according to the Interfax news agency. Russia has placed tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine and has annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.

Yulia Torhovets, a spokeswoman for the Kiev city government, would not provide any details about the drills, saying only that the city made the announcement to keep residents informed.

"We didn't want people to get scared when they see combat equipment," Torhovets told The Associated Press. "We didn't want anyone to panic."

Some Ukrainians were appalled by the loss of control over the country's eastern regions and accused the central government of reacting too slowly.

"In a normal society, when Oleksandr Turchynov admits the fact that the authorities do not control the situation in the east of the country, that's grounds for resignation. And not just from him, but all the security forces," Valeriy Kalnysh, the former editor of the now-defunct Kommersant Ukraine daily, wrote on Facebook. "But can we afford this now? .... And is it the right move in the conditions of an undeclared war with Russia?"

Former prime minister and presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko urged Ukrainians to join a resistance force that she was creating that would act in coordination with the army.

"Ukraine is under attack. Russia has begun an undeclared war against our country in the east," Tymoshenko said in a statement Wednesday. "I call upon all patriots who have ever participated in military operations to join us immediately.

Ukraine is holding a presidential election on May 25, and Tymoshenko is among several top candidates.

In eastern Ukraine, insurgents wielding automatic weapons took control and hoisted an insurgent flag on top of the city council building Wednesday morning in the city of Horlivka in the Donetsk region. They also took control of a police station in the city, adding to another police building they have controlled for several weeks.

An Associated Press reporter saw armed men guarding the city council building in Horlivka and checking the documents of those entering. One man said foreign reporters would not be allowed in and threatened to arrest those who didn't obey. Similar guards were also seen outside the city's police station.

The insurgents who now control buildings in about a dozen cities in eastern Ukraine are demanding broader regional rights as well as greater ties or outright annexation by Russia. The militiamen are holding some activists and journalists hostage, including seven observers from a European security organization.

In Luhansk, one of the largest cities in eastern Ukraine, gunmen in camouflage uniforms maintained control of several government offices they seized Tuesday. In Donetsk, insurgents added the local tax agency office to the list of buildings they have seized.

Dzhavad Iskanderov, a spokesman for the insurgents, told the AP the tax building was seized to prevent nationalists and other pro-Kiev forces from seizing the weapons inside.

Eastern Ukraine, which has a large Russian-speaking population, was the heartland of support for Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president who fled to Russia in February. The government that replaced him in Kiev has resisted the insurgents' demands, fearing they could lead to a breakup of the country or more regions being annexed by Russia.
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