Ukraine Kicks Off 'Anti-Terrorism Operation' Against Pro-Russian Forces, Inching Closer To Civil War
Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov officially announced the start of an "anti-terrorist operation" in the country's eastern region Tuesday. The declaration to Ukraine's parliament comes after pro-Russian insurgents ignored Monday's deadline to disarm forces and continue their takeover of official buildings. Protesters put up new barricades and hunkered down in their positions as Ukrainian tanks made their way into some cities, the Associated Press reports.
Turchynov's announcement follows Sunday's Facebook post from Interior Minister Arsen Avakov stating there would be counter-offensive operations. The purpose of Kiev's actions are to "protect Ukrainian citizens, stop the terror, violence and attempts to tear our country to pieces," Turchynov said in a statement. Specifically, he emphasized the Donbas region "is certainly in a big danger," and aside from troops and "terrorists," he warned of the threat of Russian propaganda. Even a United Nations human rights report released Tuesday on Ukraine detailed a need to counter "misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred" to avoid escalating tensions.
The latest showdown over the shaky country tips Moscow and Kiev in the direction of a civil war, as echoed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. "Blood was spilled once again in Ukraine,” Medvedev wrote on Facebook. “There’s a sense in the country that a civil war could break out.”
While there were no major signs of a military offensive on Kiev's part Tuesday, the acting president said that Russia's plans "were and remain brutal," and opposition forces are "working for the whole South and East of Ukraine to be on fire." Separatists are demanding greater autonomy and closer ties to Russia.
The battle has turned deadly in recent days, as troops storm government buildings and violence grows. Ukrainian presidential candidates were reportedly beaten early Tuesday, including Oleh Tsarev, who is known for his radical pro-Russia views.
Meanwhile, tensions continue to reverberate across the seas as international leaders try to make peace between the two countries. On Monday, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin found no reason to break their pattern of disagreement during a phone call over de-escalating the Ukrainian crisis.
While the United States stood firm in its call for Moscow to back down and urged the president to use his influence, Putin denied any interference in the region, the Associated Press reports. Still, the two were able to find common ground, agreeing upon talks Thursday in Geneva between the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and Europe.