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Russian-backed gunmen seize Ukraine police station
Russian-backed gunmen have seized a police station in eastern Ukraine, rejecting a rapprochment with the new Kiev government.
The BBC said the men fired shots and used stun grenades to seize the Sloviansk station near the eastern Ukraine border with Russia.
The Guardian reported only six men were involved in the raid. Ukrainian special forces were sent to the scene.
There was no mention of the incident Saturday morning in the major Russian media.
Following the collapse of the Moscow-backed government Russia first sent masked troops into the Crimea, then detached it from Ukraine. At first President Vladimir Putin [Unlink] even denied his army was involved, then credited them with seizing the area with little bloodshed.
US Secretary of State John Kerry [Unlink] said Putin followed that by sending operatives agents into eastern Ukrainian cities to stir up secessionist sentiment. Kerry said Putin was orchestrating the protests to justify invading Ukraine.
Many consider this to be round two of the Cold War, and members of Putin's ruling party have sought to jail former President Mikhail Gorbachev [Unlink] for losing the Soviet empire. Russian media has been forced to toe the line and new laws banning demonstrations enacted.
The separatist group turned out to much smaller than was originally reported, and they were driven from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city.
A recent poll by the Institute for Social Research and Policy Analysis found that 65.7 percent of the people of Donetsk want to remain in a united Ukraine.
Groups of several hundred remained holding a couple of buildings in Donetsk and Luhansk and refused to leave. The government of Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called them terrorists but offered them an amnesty and 48 hours to leave.
The seizure of the police station was the response.
Avakov "The response will be very tough because there is a difference between protesters and terrorists," he said in Ukrainian on his Facebook page.
"There is zero tolerance for armed terrorists," he said.
Hitler used a similar tactic before World War 2 started, though his troops often brazenly goose stepped into the next area they sought to claim as belong to Germany.
At the same time as it was orchestrating the protests in the eastern Ukraine, Russia massed troops, planes and tanks on its border.
Russia has refused to accept the overthrow of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who has been declared an outlaw after it was determined he and his family and friends had looted the treasury of billions. About 100 people died in toppling his government, and Kiev said Russia organized the killing to keep its man in power.
Yanukovych fled to Russia on Feb. 22 and masked gunmen, who turned out to be Russian troops, occupied Crimea in less than a week. Moscow organized a vote that it said showed overwhelming support for rejoining Russia.
Former Russian dictator Nikita Krushchev had detached the Ukraine, including Crimea, decades earlier, although they remained part of the Soviet empire until the Berlin Wall fell.
Regional police spokesman Ihor Dyomin said armed gunmen had been bussed to the police before launching their attack.
Robert Myles of Allvoices reported Friday that the Ukrainian government’s attempt to avoid violenc occurred “against a background of further tensions between and Russia over gas supplies.”
Putin had issued a thinly veiled threat to the European Union that further support for Kiev could result in the cut off of its main natural gas supply. Putin also indicated Moscow would have a say in how the new Ukrainian government is configured as he sought to avoid it becoming part of the growing body of NATO nations that have nearly contained Russian on its western front.
Slovyansk is 55 miles, south of the regional center of Donetsk, where Russian-backed gunmen have seized an 11-story building and declared it a republic.
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor for Allvoices.