Escalation of conflict in Ukraine puts country on brink of civil war – Putin

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Russian President Vladimir Putin during a telephone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the sharp escalation of the conflict in Ukraine puts the country on the brink of civil war, states the press service of the Kremlin.

The leaders of the two countries accentuated the importance of talks in a quadripartite format (Russia, the European Union, the United States, and Ukraine), planned for April 17. “Hope has been expressed that the sides at the meeting in Geneva will manage to convey a clear message contributing to directing the situation into a peaceful channel,” a Kremlin press service official added.

Russian President also recalled the importance of stabilizing the economy of Ukraine and of ensuring deliveries and transit of Russian natural gas to Europe. This had been reiterated in his message, dated April 10, 2014, to the leaders of a number of European countries.

The telephone conversation was held on the initiative of the German side, Itar-Tass reports.

Russia expects clear condemnation by UN and int’l community of Kiev’s actions in eastern Ukraine – Putin

Putin says Russia expects a clear condemnation by the United Nations and international community of “Kiev’s anti-constitutional actions in eastern Ukraine”, RIA reports. Russian President Vladimir Putin talked with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the telephone on Tuesday.

“The crisis situation in Ukraine, which escalated rapidly due to the forceful operation initiated by the Kiev authorities in the country’s south-east, has been discussed,” the Kremlin press office said in a statement.

“Putin emphasized in particular that Russia expected the UN and international community to clearly condemn these anti-constitutional actions,” the document said, Interfax reports.

Ukrainian army storms airfield in country’s east, wounded reported – people’s militia

Ukrainian troops have stormed an airfield in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, said anti-Maidan activists. Four people were killed and two injured, activists said. At the same time Slavyansk is being raided by the Ukrainian military units. On Monday the coup-imposed president Turchinov signed a decree to officially begin a “special anti-terrorist operation” in the east of the country.

Ukrainian troops approached the military airfield in armored personnel carriers between the eastern cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk, the people’s militia located at the airfield told RIA Novosti on the phone.

“They started negotiating with the people’s militia, which is in control of the airfield. The shooting started unexpectedly. There are injured among the people’s militia, and there may be deaths,” they said.

Other members of the militia have blocked the entrance to Kramatorsk and are ready to defend the city, the activists added, RT reports.

A battle is under way in the Kramatorsk airport, coordinator of self-defense forces of the Lugansk region, Alexei Chmylenko told Interfax on the telephone.

“According to the information coming from Cossacks, fire is being exchanged and a battle is under way in the Kramatorsk airport. It is unknown yet if casualties exist,” Chmylenko said.

According to the information of Chmylenko, a significant accumulation of armored vehicles can be observed at entries to Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. Also the number of armed people, who surround the cities, is growing.

Armed forces are holding a special operation in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

“A special operation is currently being held in Kramatorsk,” the Defense Ministry press office told Interfax when commenting on information from local mass media outlets and witnesses that military equipment was in the city and shots were fired.

The press office did not provide further comment. Meanwhile, the Lugansk region’s coordination council told Interfax that cell network disruptions can be observed in the Ukrainian cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk.

“Indeed, cellular service does not work in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk. This usually occurs during provocations or special operations,” the coordination council said. Cell phones for Slavyansk and Kramatorsk self-defense activists are currently not available.

Representatives of self-defense forces in the Kramatorsk in Ukraine’s Donetsk regions have reported casualties as a result of shooting at the airport on Tuesday evening.

“The battle continues, some are injured, one or two people at least,” a spokesperson told Interfax by telephone.

At the same time, the eastern city of Slavyansk is being raided by Ukrainian troops, the head of the Donbass people’s militia, Sergey Tsyplakov, told RIA Novosti.

“Currently there is a major attack on Slavyansk, armored personnel vehicles are entering the city… there are lots of troops.Our men are getting ready to defend (the city),” he said.

A column of around 500 Ukrainian troops and military hardware has entered the town of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region to conduct a special operation, according to eyewitness reports on social networking sites, Interfax reports.

“A Ukrainian Interior Ministry column of 500 troops, 20 APCs, 2 helicopters and several busses has just entered Slovyansk,” reports said.

Three helicopters are hovering above the airfield, local media outlets reported. There are many people near to the airfield, half of them in camouflage; many are locals, including children. The shooting started unexpectedly, said one of the military.

At this moment, there has been one report about an injured person. One soldier who was on duty at a checkpoint was shot in the leg.

For his part, Slavyansk self-defense forces coordinator Mykola, who asked not to give his last name, did not confirm the reports about the storming of the town.

“The situation in Slavyansk is tense but there are no armored vehicles or troops here yet. There are major problems with signal reception, it is back now after being absent for several hours,” he said.

In its turn, the Ukrainian media, quoting the Ministry of Defense, announced a special operation in Kramatorsk on Tuesday.

Armed forces are holding a special operation in Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said, Interfax reports.

“A special operation is currently being held in Kramatorsk,” the Defense Ministry press office said when commenting on information from local mass media outlets and witnesses that military equipment was in the city and shots were fired. The press office did not provide further comment.

Anti-government protesters have been holding rallies in the south-eastern part of the country following the coup in Kiev on February 22. Activists have seized government buildings in most of the cities in the Donetsk region. On Sunday, the Kiev government launched a crackdown operation in Slavyansk.

Following the event, Ukraine’s Security Council approved a full-scale security operation in the country’s eastern regions. On Monday, coup-imposed President Turchinov signed a decree to officially begin a “special anti-terrorist operation” in the east of the country.

Yesterday Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that if the authorities in Kiev will use force, the entire cooperation on the Ukrainian issue will be undermined.

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