Pro-Russian Mobs and Gunmen Seize Key Buildings in East Ukraine

Acting Ukrainian foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia called on Russia to stop its 'provocative actions' as pro-Russian mobs seized hundreds of weapons and took over more buildings in eastern Ukraine.

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Earlier today, a number of government buildings in various cities across eastern Ukraine were taken over by pro-Russian forces. Among those to fall into Russian hands were police buildings in the Donetsk region. Elsewhere, barricades and checkpoints were erected. The escalation was met by condemnation from the United States.

In an debatably inspiring gesture, Vice President Biden announced that he will be traveling to Kiev in ten days to meet with Ukrainian government officials. See our live blog below for a look at the day's events.


6:44 p.m.: Vice President Joe Biden announced he would be taking a trip to Kiev later this month to meet with Ukrainian officials as the United States declared that it was "very concerned" about today's developments in Ukraine.

A spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council didn't hesitate to point the finger at Russia for its role in fomenting the unrest.

"We are very concerned by the concerted campaign we see underway in eastern Ukraine today by pro-Russian separatists, apparently with support from Russia, who are inciting violence and sabotage and seeking to undermine and destabilize the Ukrainian state."

4:27 p.m.: A gun battle reportedly broke out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk. As with the other cities, the police building there was overrun by pro-Russian militants.

3:57 p.m.: Calling the storming of government buildings in eastern Ukraine "acts of aggression" by Russia, Ukrainian officials said they would ready troops for an operational response.

A spokeswoman for acting Ukrainian president Oleksander Turchinov announced the developments would discussed at a high-level meeting tonight.

"At 9 p.m. a meeting will take place of the Ukrainian council of security and defense because of the situation in the east of Ukraine."  

12:42 p.m.: This doesn't bode well for eastern Ukraine.

12:04 p.m.: It's now being reported that more uniformed men have stormed government buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Men in the uniforms of Ukraine's now-defunct riot police on Saturday occupied police headquarters in Donetsk, the eastern city that is one of the flashpoints of a wave of pro-Russia protests, hours after armed men seized local police headquarters and local branch of the Security Service in a nearby city.

The "now-defunct riot police" is a reference to the Berkut, the squad that served under former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and during the violent unrest that ultimately led to the pro-Russian politician's ouster.

In other noteworthy developments:

Original Post:

Acting Ukrainian foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia called on Russia to stop its "provocative actions" as pro-Russian mobs seized hundreds of weapons and took over two more buildings in eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russian militants have seized a second building in the eastern city of Slaviansk, which houses the local headquarters of the state security service, police said on Saturday.

At least 20 armed militants took over the city's police headquarters earlier.

That brings the total count of Ukrainian buildings ostensibly under Russian control to four. Two other buildings in the Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk have been occupied since last weekend.

Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, doth protest too much or something. In recent weeks, the Russian leadership has cried that their country's reputation is being unduly sullied as much of the world (and NATO) continues to label Russia a menace. Zooming out, here's why:

Russia is eating its neighbors. Six years ago, it severed two provinces from Georgia. This year, it devoured Crimea. Now it has thousands of troops deployed near Ukraine’s eastern border—up to 40,000, according to NATO estimates—backed by helicopters, tanks, and artillery. Meanwhile, Russia is threatening to cut off its gas supply to Ukraine and, by extension, European countries that rely on pipelines running through Ukraine.

We're now six weeks into the Ukrainian crisis that began with the Russian incursion into and eventual annexation of Crimea. Russia's dismemberment of Ukraine continues.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.