Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russian separatists launch fresh wave of attacks as Ukrainian President asks UN to send in the troops

Protesters are now thought to have occupied state buildings in 10 cities in eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists continued to defy demands for them to lay down their arms as Ukraine’s acting president appealed for the United Nations to send in peacekeeping troops. 

Amid growing tensions across the east of Ukraine, protesters appeared to ignore a deadline on Monday morning to leave government buildings or be faced with reprisals by Ukrainian forces.

Protesters are now thought to have occupied state buildings in 10 cities across the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In Horlivka a 100-strong crowd attacked the police headquarters in a fresh assault, a witness told Reuters. Video footage on Ukrainian television showed an ambulance treating people who were apparently injured during the attack in the city in the Donetsk region, which has a population of around 300,000 people.

Armed men in masks also took over a military airport outside the flashpoint city of Slovyansk, also in Donetsk.

 

Later, protesters claiming to be part of a new "Donetsk People's Republic" asked Vladimir Putin to provide assistance as they continue to disobey orders from Kiev.

Speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of the city administration of Slovyansk, a separatist leader called on the Russian President “to personally direct your attention to the unfolding situation and help us as much as you can”, the Reuters news agency reported.

The acting Ukraine president, Oleksander Turchynov, sought to quell the uprising on Sunday night with the threat of a full-scale “anti-terror operation”. In a statement, he promised an amnesty to pro-Russian fighters who surrendered their weapons and left government buildings by 9am (6am GMT) on Monday.

It has also emerged that Mr Turchynov has spoken with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to suggest that Ukrainian security forces and UN peacekeepers unite in an “anti-terrorist” operation.

However, such a move is unlikely to happen as it would have to be authorised by the UN Security Council, in which Russia holds a veto. 

Mr Turchynov has accused Russia of persistent provocation following the departure of Moscow-backed former president Viktor Yanukovich amid months of pro-Western protests.

Read more: Kiev confronts pro-Russia forces

“The blood of Ukrainian heroes has been shed in a war that the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” he said in a televised address on Sunday. “The aggressor has not stopped and is continuing to sow disorder in the east of the country.”

However, Mr Turchynov has said the Kiev government is “not against” a nationwide referendum to decide how Ukraine should move forward. He said he thought such a poll would confirm people's desire for a united and independent Ukraine.

Pro-separatist rebels have demanded a referendum, but they only want it held in their home region rather than across the country

In other developments, the Russian Foreign Ministry Sergei Lavrov said that Ukraine's Russian-speaking eastern regions should be involved in drafting a constitution that should be put to the referendum.

Mr Lavrov said it was not in Russia's interests for Ukraine to break up, but that Moscow wanted all citizens of the country to be given equal treatment by Kiev.

Read more: Russia rides roughshod

He denied Ukrainian and US allegations that Russia had undercover agents fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine, and said he was seeking explanation of media reports that the director of the CIA, John Brennan, had visited Kiev.

Mr Turchynov and other leaders blame Russia, which has already annexed the Crimea region, for inspiring and organising the series of rebellions.

The crisis has brought relations between Russia and the West to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War in 1991 but, with tensions building in the region, there are fears that any full-scale military operation by Ukraine could precipitate an invasion by Russian forces.

Last week Nato released satellite images showing what it said were some 40,000 Russian soldiers near the Ukrainian border, along with long lines of tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and aircraft ready for action.

Moscow dismissed the pictures, saying they were from last August, but Nato said the images indicated that Russia was ready for action at the drop of a hat.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary William Hague has accused Russia of deliberately destabilising eastern Ukraine.

Speaking on Monday at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxemburg to discuss the crisis, Mr Hague dismissed denials of Russian involvement.

“There can't really be any real doubt that this is something that has been planned and brought about by Russia,” he said. “I don't think denials of Russian involvement have a shred of credibility.”

He added that recent events mirrored Russia’s actions in seizing Crimea from Ukraine: “It has all the appearance of a further gross deliberate, premeditated violation of the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine.”

Following a phone call, Prime Minster David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to censure the rebels.

“He and Chancellor Merkel agreed about the importance of condemning the illegal occupation of government buildings in eastern Ukraine,” Cameron's official spokesman told reporters.

“They believe the Russian government should be unequivocally condemning that action too."

The UK said it would be pushing for the EU to impose further sanctions against Russia for its actions. A so-called “third phase” of EU sanctions is expected to include restrictions on trade and finance with Russia, potentially with wide-reaching repercussions for the Russian and EU economies.

But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied Western and Ukrainian claims that Moscow was behind the violence, and told UN diplomats that Ukraine has been using radical neo-Nazi forces to destabilize its eastern region.

“It is the West that will determine the opportunity to avoid civil war in Ukraine. Some people, including in this chamber, do not want to see the real reasons for what is happening in Ukraine and are constantly seeing the hand of Moscow in what is going on,” Churkin said.

“Enough. That is enough.”

He said after the meeting that he hoped Western powers would pressure Ukraine to rethink its deadline for sending in troops.

“Whether they are going to put an end to this provocation by Kiev, this is their responsibility to prevent further escalation of this crisis,” Churkin said.

Additional reporting by agencies

Read more: Crimea made part of Russia on Google maps
Casualties reported in gun battles
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Support Administrator - Part Time

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the South West'...

Recruitment Genius: Secretary

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This major European Intellectual Propert...

Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher

£130 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Humanities Teacher Jan 2015 - July...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - 9-12 Months

£14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Accounts Assistant is immedi...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness