There is no sign of tension easing in the Ukraine today. Russia promises to protect the protesters from violence as the Separatists Defy Ukraine Deadline.
Pro-Russia separatists occupying government buildings in up to 10 cities and towns in eastern Ukraine on Monday defied a deadline from Kiev to surrender as Moscow promised to “protect” people in the region from violence.
Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting president, responded by appealing to Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, to deploy peacekeepers to the region as the government implements its “antiterrorist operation” against separatist protesters.
There was no immediate response from the UN to Mr Turchynov’s request.
The development came as pro-Russian demonstrators seized more government buildings in eastern Ukraine and refused to leave those they had taken earlier despite the government threatening to deploy the military against them.
Dozens of pro-Russian separatists seized the regional police building in the eastern town of Horlivka, increasing their grip over the coal mining and steel producing regions of Donetsk and Lugansk where at least seven government buildings have been seized over the past week.
Video aired on television showed leaders of the grouping, some dressed in camouflage, standing on the stairway entrance to Horlivka’s local police headquarters addressing crowds who cheered them on.
In Slavyansk, armed men in military fatigues who described themselves as Cossacks stood guard at the local administration building and a few others patrolled the town’s streets.
In an attempt to placate anti-Kiev sentiment, Mr Turchynov on Monday said in a meeting with MPs that the authorities were “not against holding a referendum” to determine the country’s fate.
“I am convinced that a majority of Ukrainians in this referendum, which could take place on the same day as the [snap] presidential elections if [parliament] adopts such a decision, will vote for an undivided, united and Unitarian Ukraine,” he added.