Ukrainian interim President Oleksandr Turchinov delivered a nationwide television address to prepare his nation for what amounts to a full-scale war being launched against secessionists in eastern Ukrainian provinces, dubbed the offensive an “anti-terrorist” operation.
Turchinov declared it a “war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine,” continuing the claims that the protests are entirely manufactured by Russia and not representative of real opposition among the locals to the new pro-West government.
So far the fighting has been limited, with some clashes over a police station in Slovyansk. One Ukrainian soldier was confirmed killed so far, and reports have also suggested deaths among the protesters, who have been transitioned from “demonstrators” to “militants” to “terrorists” in media reports in just a few hours.
Russian officials have condemned the offensive as a violation of international law, saying it would push the incident at the UN Security Council, and warning the West better rein in Turchinov’s government before the incident spirals into a civil war.
US officials have backed the claimed that the whole thing is Russia’s fault, saying they see the “telltale signs” of Russian intervention in the east. The protesters have sought autonomy, or failing that secession from Ukraine and accession into the Russian Federation, as the Crimean Peninsula did last month.
Russian officials have warned that they reserve the right to use military force to protect ethnic Russians elsewhere in the world, and with ethnic Russians dominating the East Ukraine protests, the crackdown seems to be testing that threat, and pushing Russia in a direction of intervention.