Russia warned Tuesday that any use of force in Ukraine’s eastern region could lead to civil war, as Kiev seeks to regain control after pro-Moscow uprisings in three cities.
Pro-Russian protesters seized government buildings in the three cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv on Sunday. Rebels occupying Donetsk’s regional government building Monday declared a “people’s republic” and called for a referendum on secession from Ukraine to be held by May 11.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said reports that the protesters are facing a crackdown by Ukrainian authorities are of particular concern.
“We are calling for the immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war,” it said in a statement on its official website.
The ministry alleged that what it called “American experts from the private military organization Greystone,” disguised as soldiers, as well as militants from the Ukrainian far-right group Right Sector, had joined Ukrainian forces preparing for the crackdown in the country’s east.
Late Monday, Ukrainian special forces cleared armed protesters from the headquarters of Ukrainian security services in Donetsk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov’s office announced.
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