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Putin wants troops out of Ukraine's east



DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Ukraine should withdraw its military units from the eastern and southern regions of the country, where anti-government insurgents are seizing buildings, but hours later, Ukraine's acting president ordered the military draft be renewed as the unrest intensifies.

Although Ukraine last year announced plans to end military conscription and transfer to an all-volunteer force, Oleksandr Turchynov said in his order that the draft must be renewed in light of "threats of encroachment on Ukraine's territorial integrity and interference by Russia in the internal affairs of Ukraine."

Moscow has consistently denounced Ukrainian security forces' largely ineffectual "anti-terrorist" operation against the eastern insurgents and warned they shouldn't commit violence against civilians. In a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin said the removal of military units from the south and east was the "main thing," but it was unclear if that could be construed as an outright demand.

Turchynov's order didn't specify where conscript-bolstered forces could be deployed. Earlier in the week, he said police and security forces had been effectively "helpless" against insurgents in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the heart of the unrest, and that efforts should be focused on preventing its spread to other parts of the country.

In the regional capital city of Donetsk, anti-government demonstrators took over the regional prosecutor's office Thursday. Several dozen riot police standing guard at the regional prosecutor's office fired stun grenades and tear gas when some at the front of the crowd of several hundred people attempted to force their way into the building in Donetsk.

As the confrontation escalated, some in the crowd threw rocks and managed to wrest away shields from police. An Associated Press reporter saw a handful of officers being dragged away and beaten by members of the crowd.

Hundreds of onlookers accompanying the protesters, who included several crying children, shouted slogans and hurled abuse.

A car outside the building blared out patriotic World War II music. Inside, a passenger waved a flag bearing a doctored image of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in a black vest and holding a machine gun superimposed with the words: "Death to Fascism."

Upon occupying the building, protesters discarded the Ukrainian flag and replaced it with that of the Donetsk People's Republic - a movement that seeks either greater autonomy from the central government, or independence and possible annexation by Russia.

Donetsk is the heartland of support for Russia-friendly former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February after months of protests in the capital. Opponents of the government that succeeded him have seized buildings in about a dozen cities and towns in eastern Ukraine.

Local news website Novosti Donbassa reported that earlier in the day around 30 armed men arrived in six cars in the town of Amvrosiivka, which lies close to the Russian border, and took over the city council and forced the mayor to resign.

On Wednesday, insurgents took control of the customs service building in Donetsk and city hall in Alchevsk, an industrial center of about 110,000 people, adding to the scores of buildings taken by the separatists over the past month in the east, where a dozen cities are now in the hands of the separatists.

There has also been a spate of reported kidnappings of pro-government politicians. The Svodoba nationalist party said a local party branch leader in Kostiantynivka, 65 kilometers (40 miles) north of Donetsk, initially managed to fight off attackers at his home, but was taken away as he was phoning for help.

Turchynov has twice proclaimed "anti-terrorist" operations to regain control of the east, but to little effect.

Unlike many recent seizures of the government offices, the assault on the prosecutor's office appeared to have been spearheaded by people armed with little more than sticks. At least one young man was seen by an Associated Press reporter with a handgun tucked into his trousers, however. At least one firebomb was thrown at the building during the clash.

The armed element of the insurgency is focused on Slovyansk, a city 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of Donetsk in which seven European observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe remain held by pro-Russia gunmen.

Merkel on Thursday again called Putin and asked for his assistance in freeing the group. A spokeswoman for Merkel said the focus of the phone conversation between the two leaders was on the "the continuing hostage-taking of the OSCE observers by separatists in eastern Ukraine." Spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said in a statement that Merkel "appealed to the president to use his influence" in resolving the situation.

Russia denies allegations from Kiev and the West that it is influencing or fomenting the unrest in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin also confirmed the conversation and said Putin stressed "the main thing was for Ukraine to withdraw its troops from southeastern Ukraine, stop the violence and quickly start a broad national dialogue on constitutional reform."

On Wednesday, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said it had detained the military attache at Russia's embassy on suspicion of spying and would remove him from the country. Russia has made no public comment on the issue.

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jimstngry May 01 2014 at 6:42 PM

If only the US had acted aggressively when Russia bombed their Georgia back to the stone ages for over a month during George Bush's tenure????? Personally, I think it's about time that Europe wakes up and fights their own battles!

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2 replies
gerards2171 jimstngry May 01 2014 at 7:04 PM

I knew it was just a matter of time that Bush got blamed. When will the left accept the fact that they made many misteaks.

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1 reply
worldcommenter gerards2171 May 01 2014 at 7:12 PM

Sorry, but George did let Russia get away with it and not get much of a reprimand for it. Little or no cost for two (2) oblasts / provinces.

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alversonjw jimstngry May 01 2014 at 7:36 PM

Everything is always Bush’s fault. I bet he was the real trigger man who shot J.F.K. remember Obama = greatness, Bush = Evil.

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lucasmktginc May 01 2014 at 5:50 PM

lets send in the german military they now how to handle a russian small man, besides this is a small project its not like they, Germany is tring to capture all of russia which they almost did in the 1940's

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2 replies
vladswim lucasmktginc May 01 2014 at 5:54 PM

You think Germans are dumb enough to fight the Russians for the third time? If U.S sends force to battle Russians they will run back to the states with their tails behind their asses.

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2 replies
jackhemphill66 vladswim May 01 2014 at 6:01 PM

You are kidding right?
The USA military is the best in the world.....

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ptrk6631 vladswim May 01 2014 at 7:19 PM

communist swine go back to putin

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tpm1020 lucasmktginc May 01 2014 at 7:29 PM

The Germany army was decimated. Hitler's invasion of Russia is considered one of the worst military decisions in modern history. It was the main reason Germany lost WWII. A land invasion of Russia (and especially any attempt at an ensuing occupation) is about as unlikely as a land invasion/occupation of the United States.

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1 reply
worldcommenter tpm1020 May 01 2014 at 7:52 PM

The German army was decimated because of very long supply lines with significant guerilla groups behing German lines and a population that very quickly hated the Germans as much as the Russians. Also, US Lend Lease assitance to Russia and England helped, because Germany could not disrupt US material production. Fianlly, opening up fronts against Germany in Africa, Italy and France also drew troops from the Russian front.

Thank God that the Nazi Germans did not win, but they got to close for comfort. If their policies had been different and Japan had not brought the US into WW II, things could have been different.

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thomashollman19 May 01 2014 at 5:48 PM

OUR COMMUNITY ORGANIZER WAS TIED UP ADDING FUEL TO THE STAGED RACIL CONFLICT. IT WAS EXECUTED FLAWLESSLY WITH TOP NOTCH ACTORS 1000 TIMES BETTER THAN THE SHOE TOSS SKIT MADE TO PUT HILLERY IN THE SPOTLIGHT FOR HER SHEEP.THE OLD JEW TOOK THE BAIT FROM HIS BEDWARMER AND WERE OFF AND RUNNING THE MEDIA OWNED BY THE DEMOCRATS FANNED THE FLAMES.THE ACTORS WILL BE PAID AFTER THE ELECTION DEPENDING UPON THE OUTCOME AFTER THE DUST SETTLES MEANWHILE PUTIN KEEPS ADVANCING JUST LIKE IN BENGAZIE POLITICS COMES 1ST OUNCE AGAIN WATCH FOR MORE OF THESE STAGED EVENTS COMING MORE OFTEN BEFORE THE ELECTION. THESE ARE DESIGNED TO GET THE PUBLICS MIND OFF OF ALL THE MONEY THIER SPENDING THAT BELONGS TO OUR GRANDCHILDREN. OURS IS ALLREADY SPENT

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2 replies
s3303 thomashollman19 May 01 2014 at 6:02 PM

Dude....TAKE YOUR MEDICINE!!!!

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cyretired thomashollman19 May 01 2014 at 6:05 PM

Cap lock nutter.

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debij May 01 2014 at 5:43 PM

Russia is not inciting violence or fomenting unrest. If you believe that, I know of (swamp) land for sale in Florida and a bridge for sale. If the Ukraine backs their military off, within days it will be as much a part of Russia as Crimea is now. Putin wants all the land that Russia used to run in the "old days". However, they can't afford it. The only way they are making money as it is is selling their secrets and their arms. If you look back the past few years, Russia has blocked successful dealings with North Korea (now they have nukes), Iran (preported nukes), and they were found to be giving nukes to Cuba during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Is it my imagination or does Putin even LOOK like a James Bond villain?

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diakidis3167 May 01 2014 at 5:42 PM

I do not know why the US and some elements of the EU wanted to fool around with Ukraine. I listened to talk radio, and herd from former US ambassadors to Russia, that Russia security comes from a secure Ukraine, so when the west creeps closer to their borders, this is reaction is normal. Until we could understand each other, instead of trying to dominate each other, it is only a matter of time when things will get out of hand. And we will only have ourselves to blame not Russia, because these people are only reacting to what is coming their way. Imager if you will, if Russia was creeping close to our southern border would we welcome them warmly, or would be couscous and defensive, I think the later would be true.

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1 reply
worldcommenter diakidis3167 May 01 2014 at 8:01 PM

Why should Ukriane be dominated by Russia? Does the US install puppet Presidents in Mexico and Prime Ministers in Canada?

Eastern European countries REQUESTED to join NATO out of fear of Russian agression and intervention and they have centuries of history to show what Russias behavior has been. Ukraine agreed to lease the naval facilities to Russia right after independence, which should have allayed Russia's concerns. In fact, Ukraine extended the lease until 2047, just recently in exchange for natural gas discounts. Does not sound like Ukriane was a "theat" to Russia.

The Ukrainian people were feed up of having no economic future under the current governmental structure and want to move out of the Russian style cleptocratic oligarchy to an EU transparent normal economy. Russia did not want that and convienced its puppet President to move more toward Russia versus toward the EU; however the people said enough is enough and started the Maidan Protests.

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Mick Got May 01 2014 at 5:38 PM

Vlad you noticed how 2 hors ago there was an avalanche of sub-intellects here. Wonder where they went... probably play Nintendo.

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1 reply
vladswim Mick Got May 01 2014 at 5:47 PM

Either that or take a nice long nap in their Arizona home

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kbourger May 01 2014 at 5:33 PM

The USA a few months back got rid of the UK president who did not go along with western views and once again as has been our policy we put someone in power over there that sees things 'OUR" way. Same stuff different country...We need to get rid of the puppets in our government who only do the bidding of the rich and powerful who get them their seats in office in the first place. Who will rescue the Americans from the Tyranny of our current administration? Hasn't our constitution been shredded enough?

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chartwellfh May 01 2014 at 5:26 PM

WHY IS ALL THE MEDIA REFERRING TO THE PEOPLE FIGHTING ON BEHALF OF RUSSIA IN UKRAINE AS 'PRO-RUSSIAN FORCES, PRO-RUSSIAN GUNMEN, ETC"? THAT'S REDICULOUS; CALL THEM WHAT THEY REALLY ARE: "RUSSIAN SOLDIERS", FIGHTING ACROSS THE BORDER IN ANOTHER SOVEREIGN COUNTRY WITH DIRECT ORDERS TO OCCUPY AS MUCH OF THAT COUNTRY'S VALUABLE AND STRATEGIC TERRITORY AS POSSIBLE. THEY'RE IN UNIFORM WITH ORDERS TO ATTACK AND OCCUPY, "SOLDIERS".

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3 replies
lou stickles May 01 2014 at 5:25 PM

All this to keep the Ukraine out of the EU? Why?

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1 reply
vladswim lou stickles May 01 2014 at 5:33 PM

All of this to bring Ukraine into EU and NATO

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ergt86 May 01 2014 at 5:22 PM

Putin read Hitlers book. Putin is using Hitler's Brown Shirt tactics. Hitler's Brown Shirts were thugs that worked outside the official Government. They terrorized anyone who did not support Hitler and Hitler could clam he new nothing about them. Sounds like what Putin is doing. Also Putin started packing Eastern Ukraine with Russians many years ago. Putin=Hitler, KGB=SS. Stand buy for WWIII. If the West does not take any action now the greater the chance for World War,

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