It’s not just one sided anymore.
Today, the Ukrainian military stormed an airport 25 miles north of Slovyansk, beginning what the interim Ukrainian president, Oleksandr Turchynov, called a military operation to confront pro-Russian militants in the eastern part of the country.
The move came after a weekend of threats after pro-Russian protestors seized government buildings along the eastern border of Ukraine.
Turchynov reassured the Ukrainian parliament, and indeed the world, that today’s action would be undertaken conscientiously.
“It will be conducted step by step, responsibly, carefully,” he said to the Ukrainian parliament this morning, according to state news service Ukrinform. Turchynov’s main purpose in deploying troops is reportedly to stop terror and crime, to protect Ukrainians and to stop attempts to tear the country apart.
The head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, Andriy Parubiy, sent out a message on Twitter saying that veterans of the uprising in Kiev, many of whom were members of right-wing nationalist groups, were poised to join the fight. “Reserve unit of National Guard formed from #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning,” he tweeted.
Ukraine will use their special forces to root out the activists who have taken over government buildings in at least 10 towns along the border with Russia.
It is the belief of both Turchynov and the West that the Russian government is directly supporting the militants and their efforts.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday the evidence “is compelling” that Russia is supporting these actions.
“The Ukrainian government has arrested a number of Russian intelligence agents in Ukraine, many of them armed,” Carney told reporters. “There’s evidence that protesters have been paid to take the actions that they’ve taken. And [we have seen] this coordinated effort in a number of cities across eastern Ukraine all at once that sure didn’t look organic to observers from the outside.”
To no one’s surprise, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov spoke out against the Ukrainian operation, according to the state run RIA-Novosti.
Lavrov said, “We categorically condemn and demand the cease of so-called initiatives to send security forces and army divisions that are in breach of the norms of Ukrainian and international law to quash protests.”
Incidentally, Lavrov spoke from China where he is meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
China has been notably quiet on the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, a move that I have argued was engineered with the Russians to provide them with tacit support for their advances into Ukraine.
Indeed, Lavrov himself thanked the Chinese for their “unbiased stance” on the standoff in Ukraine.