LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine will not prosecute pro-Russian separatists who seized government buildings if they surrender their weapons and disperse, the country’s president said on Thursday, in a bid to ease a crisis that stoked fears of the country’s break-up.
But the armed men, who strengthened barricades around the buildings with barbed wire and sandbags overnight, said they would not leave unless the government also agreed to hold a referendum to boost the regions’ independence.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian separatists reinforced barricades around the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on Wednesday and called on President Vladimir Putin for help after the government warned it could use force to restore order.
Protesters were also engaged in talks to ease the standoff, which Kiev has said could provide a pretext for a Russian invasion, and lawmakers from eastern Ukraine proposed an amnesty for protesters to defuse tension.
WASHINGTON/LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea.
Armed pro-Moscow protesters were still occupying Ukrainian government buildings in two cities in the largely Russian-speaking east on Tuesday, although police ended a third occupation in a lightning night-time operation.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Past the barricades of metal railings, sandbags and barbed wire, Russian separatists peer out of the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk, rifles in hand.
The headquarters of the former KGB in this small Ukrainian city less than 30 km (20 miles) from the Russian border is potentially the most dangerous flashpoint among buildings in eastern Ukraine seized on Sunday night by pro-Moscow agitators.
LUHANSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine’s state security service on Tuesday said that pro-Russian separatists had placed explosives in a building they seized in the eastern city of Luhansk and were holding 60 people hostage.
But the activists, who have controlled the region’s state security headquarters since storming it on Sunday, denied both charges. They said they had no explosives, but had seized an armoury full of automatic rifles.
LUHANSK/DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukrainian police cleared pro-Moscow protesters from a regional administration building in a lightning night-time operation, but others held out in two more eastern cities on Tuesday in what Kiev says is a Russian-led plan to dismember the country.
Shots were fired, a grenade thrown and 70 people detained as officers ended the occupation in the city of Kharkiv during an 18 minute “anti-terrorism” action, the interior ministry said.
DONETSK/KIEV, Ukraine (Reuters) – Pro-Russian protesters seized state buildings in three east Ukrainian cities on Sunday, triggering accusations from the pro-European government in Kiev that President Vladimir Putin was orchestrating “separatist disorder”.
The protesters stormed regional government buildings in the industrial hub of Donetsk and security service offices in nearby Luhansk, waving Russian flags and demanding a Crimea-style referendum on joining Russia.
KIEV (Reuters) – Ukraine warned on Saturday it would take Russia to arbitration court if natural gas talks with Moscow failed to roll back price hikes that Kiev called an act of economic aggression.
Russia nearly doubled the price Ukraine pays for its gas this week, forcing Kiev, whose economy is in chaos, to enter into emergency talks with European neighbors to boost cheaper imports from the West.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has recalled its top military representative to NATO for consultations, Russian news agencies reported on Thursday, widening the rift between Moscow and the Western alliance over Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Russia’s action last month has caused the deepest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War, leading the West to impose sanctions and stirring fears that President Vladimir Putin has territorial designs beyond Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula with its Russian-majority population.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia said on Thursday it wanted answers from NATO on its activities in eastern Europe after the Western military alliance promised to beef up defenses for its eastern members.
Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region last month has caused the deepest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War, leading the West to impose sanctions and sparking fear President Vladimir Putin has territorial designs beyond the Black Sea peninsula with its Russian-majority population.