Heavy fighting reported in Ukraine’s Slovyansk, government sending special police to Odessa
Ukrainian government forces fought gun battles Monday with pro-Russian milititants in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk, a day after pro-Russian protesters stormed the police station in the southern city of Odessa, the Voice of America reports.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on May 5 that the Ukrainian government will send a special police force to the port city of Odessa to help restore order after separatist violence on May 2 left 46 people dead, the Kyiv Post said.
Avakov accused the Odessa police of failing to prevent the violence, saying that they acted “outrageously, possibly in a criminal fashion”.
“The Ukraine government is in a “difficult dilemma”, said Steven Pifer, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, in an interview with Deutsche Welle. Pifer is now working for the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institution. “The use of force could provoke a military intervention by Russia,” said Pifer. But if the government does nothing, it could lose eastern Ukraine.
The military operation in Slovyansk is a direct consequence of the public’s biting criticism of the government’s previous position, thinks Volodymyr Fesenko, a political expert in Kyiv. “They have been forced to show determination,” he said in an interview with DW.
Russia has called on Ukraine’s government to stop an operation against pro-Moscow separatists in the east and enter talks aimed at resolving the crisis, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said on May 5.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that a humanitarian crisis was looming in cities where Ukrainian forces have been trying to dislodge pro-Russian separatists.
It called on the Kyiv authorities “to come to their senses, stop the bloodshed, withdraw forces, and finally sit down at the negotiating table to begin a normal dialogue about ways to resolve the political crisis.”
(Photo: Euromaidanpr via Facebook)