Blood shed in Ukraine has now become a reality, as three pro-Russian separatists were killed during the storming of a Ukrainian base. Officials also say that 13 pro-Russian separatists were injured and 63 were arrested, as they tried to take over the Ukrainian base. This comes at a time when President Vladimir Putin has claimed he has the power to use military force in Ukraine, stressing that it is historically Russian territory and they therefore have a right to it, even referring to it as the “new Russia”. However, Putin denied that any Russian special forces were being used in causing unrest in the region.
Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly stressed his right to send Russian troops into eastern Ukraine, but rejected claims that Russian special forces are fomenting unrest in the region.
According to The New York Times, Putin emphasized that Russian Parliament’s upper chamber had authorized him to use military force if necessary, and stressed Russia’s historical claim to the territory, repeatedly referring to it as “new Russia.”
Putin recognized for the first time that the troops in unmarked uniforms who had overtaken Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula before its annexation by Moscow were Russian soldiers.
Putin’s comments Thursday came as Ukraine’s Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said three pro-Russian protesters were killed, 13 more were wounded, and 63 were arrested in a confrontation at a military base in the east of the country.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the remarks by Avakov. The incident occurred at a base in the southeastern city of Mariupol, in the Donbass region of the country, approximately 70 miles south of Donetsk.
Earlier, the Journal reported that a group of insurgents had stormed the base late Wednesday as Ukraine’s military drive to regain control of the country’s east from separatists was stymied by civilians who halted army columns in their tracks and militants who hijacked Ukrainian military vehicles and drove them around with Russian flags.
At Mariupol, the Ukrainian National Guard said the troops there had refused to comply with demands to surrender their weapons and switch sides. Protesters began rushing the gates and throwing Molotov cocktails, according to the National Guard, and shots were fired.
Speaking in a televised call-in show with the nation Thursday, Putin harshly criticized the West for trying to pull Ukraine into its orbit and said that people in eastern Ukraine have risen against the authorities in Kiev, who ignored their rights and legitimate demands.
“It’s all nonsense, there are no special units, special forces or instructors in the east of Ukraine,” Putin said.
Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked details of U.S. intelligence eavesdropping, asked Putin a question during the televised call-in show, Reuters reported.