Tensions that wouldn’t seem capable of rising even further are threatening to do just that with the news that Ukrainian authorities say they’re ready to use force if necessary to remove pro-Russia protesters from government buildings they’re occupying in eastern Ukraine.
” ‘I think that a resolution of this crisis will be found in the next 48 hours,’ Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said at a cabinet meeting in the capital, Kiev. ‘There are two possible ways it can happen: either through the negotiation process or through forceful intervention.’ ”
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that “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.”
The news service adds, though, that “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.”
Tuesday, as we reported, Ukrainian authorities arrested around 70 demonstrators who had seized a regional administration building in Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city.”
But as CNN notes, protesters have also seized government buildings in Donetsk.
The seizures come as an estimated 40,000 Russian troops sit just across the border with eastern Ukraine. CNN adds that “Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine and the United States have ‘no reason for concern’ about the presence of Russian forces, which it says are on military exercises.”
But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday said Russian is behind the “chaos” in eastern Ukraine and may be looking for the sort of “contrived pretext for military intervention … we saw in Crimea.”
On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland said there is overwhelming evidence that Russia is behind the takeovers of government buildings in eastern Ukraine, NPR’s Michele Kelemen tells our Newscast Desk.
For much more about the crisis in Ukraine, the Russian annexation of Crime and related stories, see our earlier posts.