Armed men in military fatigues stood guard Monday outside a regional administration building they seized in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk. Genya Savilov /AFP/Getty Images
“A deadline set by the Ukrainian government for pro-Russian gunmen to leave government buildings in eastern Ukraine and surrender weapons passed early Monday,” The Associated Press writes, “with no immediate sign of any action to force the insurgents out.”
NPR’s Ari Shapiro, who is in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, reminds our Newscast Desk that Ukraine’s government has promised it will use force, if necessary, in a bid to regain control. With up to 12,000 Ukrainian troops reportedly poised to enter the region, “people here are afraid of all-out war,” Ari says.
There are also fears, of course, about what might happen after any such action by Ukrainian forces. The AP notes that “Russia has warned the Kiev government against using force against the protesters in the east and has threatened to cancel international diplomatic conference on the Ukrainian conflict scheduled for later this week.”
Last month, Russian forces moved into what was the Ukrainian-controlled Crimean Peninsula. Since then, Russia has annexed Crimea — an act that Ukraine, the U.S. and many other nations have deemed a violation of international law.
On Monday, NPR’s Corey Flintoff reports from Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied Western allegations that undercover agents from Russia are helping to stir up trouble in eastern Ukraine — perhaps in an attempt to create the same sort of crisis that preceded the annexation of Crimea.
On Sunday, as we reported, Ukrainian authorities said one of the nation’s security service officers was killed when pro-Russia gunmen fired on security forces near the city of Slovyansk.
For much more about the crisis in Ukraine and how it has unfolded, see our earlier posts.