The situation in Ukraine got more confusing on the beginning of the blood moon tetrad, ironically marked by the bloodiest (known) day of the silent war since the violent protests in Kiev. What’s left of the Ukraine military stormed an airbase and pro-Russian positions in nearby areas in eastern Ukraine. The conflicting reports and news propaganda on both sides made the confusion worse. It is still unclear how many deaths occurred however displays of military force were overt or both sides as “self defense” squads provided the pro-Russian resistance. Associated Press summarized the day’s events most succinctly with less of the commonplace Ukrainian or Russian slant.
The clashes Tuesday came at Kramatorsk airport, just south of the city of Slovyansk, which has come under the increasing control of the pro-Russian gunmen who seized it last weekend.
The precise sequence of events was mired in confusion amid contradictory official claims.
The commander of the Ukrainian operation, Gen. Vasyl Krutov, speaking outside Kramatorsk airport, said his men managed to thwart an attack by fighters in green military uniforms without insignia who tried to storm the facility in the late afternoon. An Associated Press reporter and camera crew heard rounds of gunfire at the time.
After the armed standoff, hundreds of local people surrounded the airport in response to rumors that government troops were planning to launch a military operation on the city of Kramatorsk itself. Some in the crowd attempted to enter the military facility, prompting Ukrainian troops to fire bursts of warning shots.
In an attempt to defuse the situation, Gen. Krutov came out to speak to the angry protesters but was attacked by them. After a tussle in which his hat was knocked to the ground, he managed to take refuge in the airport.
There were conflicting reports of casualties.
Yury Zhadobin, coordinator of a pro-Russian defense force, said two people were slightly injured and were taken to a hospital. Russian media, without sourcing, claimed anywhere from four to 11 casualties at the airport. Ukraine’s government said there were no casualties, adding that Ukrainian forces took an unspecified number of militiamen prisoner.
While Krutov spoke of repelling an attack, the new government in Kiev declared that its forces had recaptured the airport from militiamen.
More on the Ukrainian show of force
From Kyiv Post:
Espresso TV’s correspondent on the ground at Kramatorsk airfield in Donetsk Oblast reports that the elite Omega unit of the Interior Ministry has taken control of the airfield.
Citing the Defense Ministry, Interfax is reporting that Ukrainian armored personnel carriers stormed the airfield, which lies between the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. Ukrainian troops fired on pro-Russian terrorists who had occupied the airfield.
Russia Today reported that several members of armed terrorists were wounded in the attack and there “may be deaths.”
Quoting “activists” at the airfield, Russia Today reported that “Other members of the militia (Kremlin-backed terrorists) have blocked the entrance to Kramatorsk and are ready to defend the city, the activists added.”
Concurrently, RIA Novosti reported that Ukrainian troops had laid siege on Sloviansk.
Interfax cited eye witnesses who said that a caravan of 500 Ukrainian troops and military hardware has entered Sloviansk.
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) April 15, 2014
— Лiсовий брат (@forest_brother) April 15, 2014
Самолет такой, например pic.twitter.com/MPn0JvwsuS
— ЄВРОМАЙДАН (@euromaidan) April 15, 2014
Наш Су-27 в небе над Краматорском pic.twitter.com/xN6jxEDT8H
— ЄВРОМАЙДАН (@euromaidan) April 15, 2014
A recording is being cited as linking the supposedly independent separatists in the east to support from Moscow, which would change the tone of the rhetoric on both sides, if authentic.
A recording proving that Russia is backing separatists in eastern Ukraine has surfaced online. The SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) taped the operatives, whose code names are “Nose,” “Adler,” “Shooter” and “Agath,” discussing strategy, weapon stockpiles, and requests for reinforcements.
The SBU has identified the number calling the separatists in Ukraine as having a Russian +7 area code. The person with the Russian number asks Shooter to contact him. Later in the conversation, Shooter reports “fighting off the first (Ukrainian) attack” and shooting “some significant (highly-ranked Ukrainian) people.”
Below is a video of the recording, which was posted by EuroMaidan PR’s YouTube account, with English subtitles:
The coordinator in Russia, named Alexander, asks Shooter to go on air and speak with Russian television channel “Life News.” Alexander tells Shooter not to identify himself and suggests taking his “assistant with a Ukrainian accent.” He asks Shooter to demand federalization, gubernatorial elections no earlier than the May 25 Ukrainian elections, and to emphasize the demand that the Verkhovna Rada should not be allowed to accept external financial support without the support from 2/3 of oblasts.
A man named Konstantin Valerievich later calls Shooter from the same Russian number. He asks: “Have you reported to Aksenov?” Shooter responds “no,” and Konstantin Valerievich requests that he report to Aksenov.
The conversation was in reference to an ambush the Russians organized against a Ukrainian force led by the SBU’s anti-terrorism unit on the outskirts of Slovyansk on April 13. SBU Captain Hennadiy Bilichenko was killed in the firefight and nine others were seriously injured, said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. In the same conversation, the Russian operatives in Slovyansk asked for anti-tank weapons. The other caller responded that he will send a platoon from Luhansk who have combat experience with the anti-armor weapons.
Shooter asks Konstantin Valerievich to identify who exactly was injured by their separatist group earlier.
“I can only provide official information: it was the chief of Ukraine’s Anti-terrorism Center.”
Avakov said, he [the chief] was injured. So you assaulted the right target,” Konstantin Valerievich responds.
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