Kiev Escalates Threats, Moscow Warns of “Catastrophic” Consequences

While the Prosecutor’s office in Donetsk Region and administrative buildings in several other towns of eastern Ukraine were taken over by anti-Kiev militants on Thursday, with little police resistance, the most rapid build-up of tension may be in the Ukrainian capital itself, both in the streets and within the coup-installed acting government.

On Wednesday, there were clashes in the streets of Kiev, involving at least some Right Sector and Maidan Self-Defense guerrillas, particularly members of the Cossack Hundred from the Maidan, as well as bands of youth. Overnight, reports spread of heavy military equipment movements in the streets of the capital, which were variously explained by government agencies during the day as being practice for deployments around the upcoming May 9 holidays (the Kiev regime will not hold a parade to mark the Allied victory over fascism in World War II) or, perhaps, the planned May 25 election.

As police and Internal Affairs forces surrender to local militias in the eastern cities, the accusations and decrees issued in Kiev are becoming more fevered. Wednesday acting President Alexander Turchynov declared a nationwide military mobilization. Yesterday he signed an order for a draft of men aged 18-25 into the Armed Forces, to be conducted in the May-July period, along with a call-up of reserve officers. Later that afternoon it was announced that Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov will no longer head the “special operation” that has failed to suppress rebellion in the east, but this will be handed over to Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) head Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, a long-time crony of Right Sector head Dmytro Yarosh and the latter’s Bandera Trident organization. Nalyvaychenko, who headed the SBU under President Victor Yushchenko in the previous decade, is also known for his cozy relations with U.S. and NATO intelligence. There are unconfirmed reports in Russian and Ukrainian media, of a plan by Nalyvaychenko to use the new, Maidan-based National Guard in violent actions in the southeast tomorrow.

In related developments, RIA-Novosti reports that the Donetsk Region will boycott Ukraine’s May 25 presidential elections if their own May 11 referendum supports independence, according to Denis Pushilin, a leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. “We have no plans to take part in our neighbor’s election,” he said, implying that by May 25 Donetsk might no longer be part of Ukraine. ITAR-Tass reported May 1 that the Donetsk and Luhansk Regions will include in their May 11 referenda, the question of merger of parts of those regions into the Dnipropetrovsk region,constituting a mega-region of nearly 10 million people.

The Russian Foreign Ministry Wednesday and Thursday issued several statements on Kiev’s actions. Wednesday Moscow said it was “concerned about the militaristic statements” of the Kiev government, citing Turchynov’s mobilization order. Yesterday the Foreign Ministry stated, “extreme concern over media reports of the Kiev regime’s intention to conduct a special storm operation in the southeast regions,” using Right Sector. “Such irresponsible and aggressive actions,” it continued, “…could lead to catastrophic consequences.” Moscow called for Kiev and the other signatories to the April 17 Geneva Statement (the U.S.A. and EU) to block such “criminal mistakes,” halt the use of violence, and organize a nationwide dialogue involving forces from all regions and parts of the political spectrum. In an additional release yesterday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseni Yatsenyuk’s proposal to conduct a “poll” on the “decentralization of power,” on the same day as the Presidential election scheduled for May 25, was “divorced from reality.” It criticized Yatsenyuk for making vague promises of “supplementary guarantees” for Russian speakers and for regional reform, while failing to organize a serious nationwide deliberation process before holding elections.

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