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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
KYIV/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife)– Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov accused Russia on Sunday, April 13, of waging war against Ukraine and said he had decided to launch what he called a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine.
He spoke after Ukrainian security forces launched an operation against pro-Russian separatists who have occupied state buildings in the eastern city of Slaviansk, with casualties reported on both sides.
Officials said at least one security officer was killed and five injured on the government side, while Russian media reported that at least one pro-Moscow activist died and two separatists were wounded in Sunday’s clashes.
Military helicopters flew over the troubled eastern city of Slaviansk as part of what Ukraine’s government described as an “anti-terrorist operation”.
Ukrainian forces tried to clear pro-Russian militants from the headquarters of the police and the state security service in Slaviansk, some 150 kilometers from the Russian border.
“They say special forces are on their way,” a masked pro-Russian activist said. “So we will see what will happen.”
Sunday’s clashes followed gun battles in the nearby town of Kramatorsk.
Pro-Russian fighters in camouflage uniforms exchanged gunfire with security forcfes during a raid on a police station in Kramatorsk late on Saturday.
Unrest spreads in the east, where pro-Russian separatists are demanding that the region stage referendums on whether to breakaway from Ukraine, similar to the one that led to Crimea’s annexation by Russia last month.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has warned that armed action by Ukrainian authorities could undermine forthcoming talks between Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union.
In a phone call, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged his Russian counterpart to help in his words de-escalate the situation or face additional consequences such as sanctions.
Some have still hope.
In the eastern city of Kharkiv for instance, demonstrators carrying Ukrainian flags have called for unity.
Yet, with pro-Russian forces increasingly active in the area, it remained unclear Sunday if and when these voices would be heard.