ODESSA (Times of India): Thousands of pro-Russian protesters assaulted Odessa’s police headquarters on Sunday, days after deadly clashes and a fire there killed dozens of their comrades in what Kiev charged was a Russian plot to “destroy Ukraine” .
The unrest in the southern port city threatened a new front in the Ukrainian government’s battle against pro-Moscow militants, with an expanded military operation under way in the east against gunmen holding more than a dozen towns.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia was executing a plan “to destroy Ukraine and its statehood” . He was in Odessa to observe mourning for the 42 people who died there in clashes and the fire on Friday — most of them pro-Russian militants.
The unrest shaking the Black Sea city of one million people, he said, aimed “to repeat in Odessa what is happening in the east of the country” . In an effort to head off any retribution on the streets for Friday’s bloodshed, Yatsenyuk sacked Odessa’s police chiefs and ordered an inquiry.
The police in the headquarters managed to calm the crowd outside by releasing 67 pro-Russian militants they were holding, nearly half the 150 total who had been arrested in Friday’s clashes. One person , though, was reported wounded by gunshot in the city. Although Moscow has admitted sending troops into Crimea ahead of annexing the strategic peninsula in March, it denies having a hand in Ukraine’s unrest in the east and in Odessa. Instead it blames the Kiev government and its Western backers for the carnage.
Moscow has also demanded a halt to the Ukrainian military offensive in the east, saying that it has received “thousands” of calls for help from the population there for it to intervene. Tens of thousands of Russian troops have been parked on Ukraine’s border for two months, ready for an invasion Russian President Vladimir Putin said he has a right to launch — but “hopes” he won’t have to.
Late on Sunday, a spokeswoman for rebels in the insurgent-controlled bastion of Slaviansk said “the town is completely surrounded” . Seven armoured vehicles were blocking the last main route out, the road to the regional hub of Donetsk. Ukrainian authorities have already put all armed forces on “combat alert” and brought back conscription as the risk of invasion looms. The three-day death toll from the eastern offensive meanwhile stood at 10 at least — half of them servicemen — as soldiers confronted gunmen in towns around Slaviansk.
CIA, FBI advising Ukraine govt: Report
Dozens of specialists from the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are advising the Ukrainian government, a German newspaper reported on Sunday. Citing unnamed German security sources, Bild am Sonntag said the CIA and FBI agents were helping Kiev end the rebellion in east Ukraine. It said that the agents were, however, not directly involved in fighting with pro-Russian militants.