Late day news......
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry provided Russia with a stern warning Thursday evening: Start complying with the de-escalation agreement brokered last week in Geneva, or face the wrath of new U.S. sanctions.
John Kerry Just Gave Russia A Final Warning
Kerry delivered a terse statement from the State Department's briefing room late Thursday, during which he blasted Russia for not taking a "single step in the right direction" toward de-escalation. He criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for what he called outlandish claims that the Internet is a "CIA plot." And he accused Russia of waging a propaganda campaign, led by "propaganda bullhorn" network Russia Today.
"What is happening in eastern Ukraine is a military operation that is well planned and organized," Kerry said. "If Russia continues in this direction, it will not only be a grave mistake — it will be an expensive mistake."
Kerry's comments came on the same day U.S. President Barack Obama said during a press conference in Japan that new sanctions were "teed up." On the ground in eastern Ukraine, the crisis escalated, as Russia embarked on new military drills along the Ukrainian border after Ukraine said it had killed up to five pro-Russian militants.
Putin warned Ukraine's actions would "have consequences," after which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the new military drills. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry gave Russia a 48-hour ultimatum to explain its military drills.
A week after the deal in Geneva was reached, however, Kerry praised Ukraine as being the only country to "keep its word."
"The window to change course," Kerry said, "is closing. We are ready to act."
Ukraine Gives Russia 48-Hr Ultimatum Or "We Will Fight"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/24/2014 13:17 -0400
Ukraine's foreign ministry has given Russia a 48-hour ultimatum to explain its military exercises near the nation's border; or, as foreign minister Andriy Deshschytisa warns "we will now fight with Russia troops."
As AP reports,
Ukraine's foreign minister has blasted the Russian decision to start military maneuvers along Ukraine's border and said his country will fight any invading troops.Andriy Deshchytisa said Russia's decision Thursday to launch the military exercises "very much escalates the situation in the region."Talking to The Associated Press in Prague, Deshchytisa says his country has been taught a lesson by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. He says "having this experience, we will now fight with Russian troops if ... they invade Ukraine."He says "Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this."Deshchytisa says the new Russian military exercises are taking place "even closer to the Ukrainian border than it was planned earlier" and demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops.
It seems the red-line is about to be crossed by both sides... though as long as Putin does not hold an emergency press conference, it seems BTFWWIII is back on.
Russia "Forced" To Launch Drill On Ukraine Border In Response To "NATO Build Up", Will Involve Fighter Jets
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/24/2014 09:07 -0400
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says that Russia will begin "defense drills" today, forced to react to the situation in southeast Ukraine and, more improtantly, the NATO build up, the first time Russia has explicitly reacted to the military build up of the military alliance. There are already tanks amassing within meters of the border (as the following clip indicates), and
- RUSSIAN DRILLS TO INVOLVE PLANES WORKING NEAR BORDERS
It is now entirelyclear that the "truce" deal is dead as both sides not only escalate but blame each other for the un-de-escalation. Russia's move - after US and NATO's expansions this week - leaves the situation as bad as it has been since tensions began.
As Bloomberg reports,
Drills to involve planes working near state borders, troops along Ukrainian border, Interfax reports, citing Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.Shoigu says Russia forced to react to situation in southeast Ukraine: InterfaxShoigu says drills began today, Interfax reports
RUSSIAN BATTALION TACTICAL COMBINED-ARMS GROUPS FROM SOUTHERN, WESTERN MILITARY DISTRICTS START DRILLS IN RESPONSE TO SITUATION IN SOUTHEAST UKRAINE - SHOIGUSHOIGU: IN FRAMEWORK OF DRILLS AVIATION TO CARRY OUT FLIGHTS TO EXERCISE ACTIONS NEAR STATE BORDER
Finally, from RT:
Russia has begun extensive military exercises on its Ukrainian border following the escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine.“The order to use force against civilians has already been given, and if this military machine is not stopped, the amount of casualties will only grow,” Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said during an official meeting in Moscow.“We are forced to react to the situation.”Shoigu said that the drills involve march and deployment exercises by forces in the southern and western military districts, and separate Air Force maneuvers.
And as the following so far uncofnrimed clip shows, the troops are already allegedly within meters of the border...
Finally, RIA notes the explicit warning from Russia:
- Ukraine risking large number of casualties w/ military operation in southeast of country: RIA
Final warning ?
Putin Says "Use Of Force In Ukraine Will Have Consequences" As Column Of Military Vehicles Seen Heading Toward Border
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/24/2014 07:17 -0400
As expected, Russia has promptly responded to the latest "anti-terrorist" escalation in Ukraine both diplomatically...
- PUTIN SAYS USE OF FORCE IN UKRAINE WILL HAVE CONSEQUENCES - BBG
- PUTIN SAYS IF UKRAINE USING ARMY AGAINST PUBLIC IT'S A CRIME - BBG
- PUTIN SAYS EVENTS IN EAST UKRAINE COULD HAVE HAPPENED IN CRIMEA - BBG
- PUTIN SAYS NO SANCTIONS ARE EFFECTIVE IN MODERN WORLD - BBG
- PUTIN SAYS HE'S LEARNING ABOUT UKRAINE EVENTS FROM MEDIA - BBG
- Use of force against public in Ukraine would be a “very serious crime,” Russian President Vladimir Putin says at meeting w/ media in St. Petersburg.
- Putin said consequences for people involved will depend on how vents evolve in Ukraine
- Putin adds that events in eastern Ukraine could have happened in Crimea, show Russia was right to support referendum there and says that the Geneva accord is not being followed as extremist groups in Ukraine refuse to disarm
.. and militarily. A YouTube clip released moments ago and taken in the Rostov region, shows a large column of military vehicles moving in the direction of Donetsk region. On the highway M-4 are seen tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry. Following the column are 12 combat helicopters. Written on the sides of vehicles "peacekeeping mission."
A day after the acting government in Kiev announced the Geneva agreement is void and that it would once again send special forces to deal with "terrorists" in east Ukraine, it had made good on its promise and over the past few hours, Ukrainian tanks, APCs and other special forces troops took control of a checkpoint north of Slavyansk on Thursday, following what numerous reports confirm was an exchange of gunfire.
What happened next is not exactly clear. Reuters reports that "when the armoured unit approached along a road from Sviatogorsk, which Ukraine's government said it recaptured on Wednesday, militants set up a smokescreen of burning tyres. Within half an hour, the Ukrainian force was in control of the position near the village of Khrestyshche. No shots were heard."
Ukrainian forces appear to be closing in around Slaviansk, a city of 130,000 which has become a military stronghold for the pro-Russian movement and is entirely controlled by separatist fighters.Reuters journalists saw Ukrainian troops digging in outside the city on the main road south to the regional capital Donetsk.Earlier in the morning, a spokeswoman for the separatist authorities in Slaviansk, Stella Khorosheva, said on Facebook that two people were killed at a checkpoint overnight.Local online news site slavgorod.com.ua quoted other separatist representatives saying one man was dead and another seriously wounded after a group of local militia fighters from a checkpoint went to engage a group of "armed men" between Slaviansk and Sviatogorsk and were then fired on from a wood.The Ukrainian government said troops repelled an overnight raid on a base at Artemivsk, to the south of Slaviansk on the road to Donetsk. A soldier was wounded in the attack by about 70 people who Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Facebook were led by Russian soldiers.
This conflicts somewhat with reports from both AFP and RT of a far more serious escalation including shooting at the Slavyansk checkpoint, and that according to @GazetaRu at least six people have been killed so far. Just out from RT:
Fighting has erupted just outside Slavyansk, a town in east Ukraine where population voiced their protest against Kiev authorities. Ukrainian troops on tanks and armored vehicles are trying to break into the town.According to Ukrainian Interior ministry, at least five self-defense guards have been killed and one policeman injured after the ‘antiterrorist operation’ launched by Kiev in the city. Three checkpoints erected by the anti-government protesters have also been destroyed.“Around 40 minutes ago fighting started on the outskirts of Slavyansk,” one of the leaders of self-defense forces, Miroslav Rudenko , told Interfax. We are checking reports of one dead and one injured. There are shootings at a number of checkpoints at some of Slavyansk exit-roads.”Rudenko said it was impossible to reach self-defense leaders in Slavyansk by phone, suspecting that mobile phone connection could have been switched off.
More from RT:
Police has announced the beginning of the crackdown via loudspeakers and a special vehicle is currently patrolling the streets warning local people about the crackdown.The local citizens in the city are preparing for the Kiev crackdown. The majority of shops, kindergartens and schools have been closed in the city. Only the shops selling bread and water remain open. Rossiya 24 TV channel reported there was a slow offensive by Ukrainian troops on Slavyansk.“Now armored vehicles and special forces are just 10km away from the town,” said Rossiya 24 correspondent currently on the ground.According to locals, at least eight armored infantry vehicles passed the village of Hrestische, near Slavyansk, on Thursday morning, reports Gazeta.ru.At least three snipers from Ukrainian army are now at the barricades, the residents also told Gazeta.ru, adding that when one of the journalists tried to approach the barricades, the snipers opened fire.Meanwhile, two columns of armored vehicles are heading towards Slavyansk. The first column is now 6km from the city, while the second is 3 to 4km, Mayor of Slavyansk Vyacheslav Ponomarev told Rossiya 24 TV channel.According to the latest reports, self-defense forces have repelled the attack of the Kiev gunmen at the key checkpoint in north of Slavyansk. At least three infantry vehicles had to retreat, reports Rossiya 24.Meanwhile, the armored infantry vehicles are currently heading towards the town of Izyum in the Kharkov Region, not far from Slavyansk.Anti-government protesters are still controlling the checkpoints on the outskirts of Slavyansk.
A video of the events:
And here is the latest reports on the ground: