Contradictory claims were the order of the day, yesterday, as Ukraine’s Acting President Alexander Turchynov solemnly informed the Supreme Rada that the Kiev regime’s “counterterrorism operation,” promised since Saturday night, “was launched in the north of Donetsk region.” He said the military action would proceed “gradually, responsibly, and prudently, … for the protection of Ukrainian citizens, stopping terror, criminality, and attempts to break our country into pieces.” The one specific operation he reported was the “liberation” of an airfield near Kramatorsk in Donetsk region; it was unclear who had been holding the site, though there were reports of from one to four casualties. Russian television tonight showed footage of the airfield, reporting that “around a thousand” local residents were picketing its perimeter in hopes of preventing the just-landed forces from proceeding into the towns of Kramatorsk and nearby Slavyansk.
Russian TV was not long in undercutting Turchynov’s claims: the London Guardian reports that angry locals knocked the hat off Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) Gen. Vasyl Krutov, denouncing him for the landing operation. Writes the Guardian, “He had told them that his men had been forced to open fire because they had been confronted by gunmen in military uniform without insignia, but the protesters insisted there had only been local people armed with clubs.”
RIA Regnum reports that Nelly Shtepa, the mayor of Slavyansk who a few days ago took the bullhorn to tell a large city-center crowd that the militias holding the city hall were local, “our Donbass guys,” is now under criminal investigation by the SBU for “encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine” — one of the new crimes instituted by the Supreme Rada last week.
Krutov, newly appointed as SBU Anti-Terror Center coordinator, claimed that a Russian spetsnaz [special forces—ed.] presence in the region is doubling daily, but that they were hiding behind the local population. The Kiev regime’s deputy premier, Vitali Yarema, asserted that persons from a specific Russian airborne division normally stationed near Moscow had been captured in Donetsk. National Security and Defense Council head Andriy Paruby claimed that “Russian officers” had been captured. Paruby, an activist in neo-fascist political groups since the early 1990s and lately the Euromaidan Commandant, posted on Facebook photos of troops in the new National Guard, on their way to fight “separatism” in eastern Ukraine.” It is widely believed in Ukraine, that the Guard — formed of Right Sector and Maidan Self-Defense cadre — is being mobilized because the regular military and police have refused to act against the population.
Channel One Russia TV also interviewed groups of civilians camped out on roads leading into the eastern city of Luhansk, who said they were there to stop tanks from entering the city. Some were shown yelling at an Army officer, not to shoot “your own people” — Ukrainians in Luhansk.
Party of Regions MP Oleh Tsaryov, visiting Donetsk, said the same: “The greatest demand on our military men, is that when they look through their gun sites and see people moving, that they realize that these are their own people.” Tsaryov’s face was streaked red and purple because yesterday in Kiev, as he left a TV studio after giving an interview, he was set upon by thugs and beaten up. The Kiev police “rescued” Tsaryov, but took him not to the hospital — rather, to a prosecutor’s office for questioning under the same “encroachment on territorial integrity” law. Tsaryov is a registered Presidential candidate and has advocated shifting to a federal system, “in order to preserve Ukraine.” The official Party of Regions candidate, Mikhail Dobkin, was also attacked by a Kiev mob.