On Thursday, the same day the pro-Russian militants took control of the regional prosecutor’s office in the eastern city of Donetsk, Ukraine’s interim president Olexander Turchynov, in Kiev, reinstated the draft that includes all nonexempt Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 25. The military draft in that country was discontinued in 2010.
This new development took place one day after the Ukrainian president stated publicly that the eastern portion of his country was, for all intents and purposes, out of the control of the Ukrainian government. In another move, Ukraine also expelled Russia’s military attaché, the Ukraine government said that it had caught him “red-handed” receiving classified information pertaining to Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO during the uprising that toppled the former Ukrainian president. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said that the unidentified diplomat had been detained on Wednesday.
Moscow did not have an immediate response. But, in the huge mayday celebration taking place in Moscow, banners could be seen supporting Russia’s Pres. Vladimir Putin as thousands of trade unionists marched with Russian flags as well as flags of United Russia party near the Kremlin’s walls.
But, Putin did call on Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany, to relate to the Ukrainian government that it was necessary to withdraw the Ukrainian military units from the southeast portion of the Ukraine, and stated that that and launching a national dialogue are key issues in the conflict. This came as a response to Merkel’s request to Putin to assist in freeing the seven Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe military observers that were earlier kidnapped by pro-Russian militia.
Meanwhile, in Donetsk, the city almost entirely under the control of the pro-Russian separatists, protesters throwing rocks and smashing windows, took control of the regional prosecutor’s office. As police tried to intervene, the protesters pummeled them with rocks, drug them to the ground and beat them, all the while calling them “fascists.” shortly after, the responding policemen surrendered to the mob.
Donetsk, at the center of the region in eastern Ukraine, has been proclaimed the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” by the separatists there. They have called for a referendum on secession to take place on May 11.
in Washington, Republicans continue to criticize Pres. Obama was handling of the Ukrainian situation, calling the administration “helpless,” “insufficient,” “tepid,” and too “timid.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte and colleagues have now introduced legislation to provide Ukrainian national forces with weapons for use against the separatists in the Eastern region of that country.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said, “the president has an uncanny ability of underestimating every crisis in being late.”
The White House questions the benefit of arming Ukrainians, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the administration “will obviously continue to look at the kinds of assistance we will provide.” Carney continued saying, “the only way to resolve this is not through military conflict, it’s through organizing, as the United States has, an international coalition to put pressure on Russia to make sure that Russia is paying a high price for the actions that it is taking.”
Pres. Obama will be hosting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Friday to discuss the situation in Ukraine. It is unknown if Obama will urge deeper sanctions against Russia during that meeting, but the administration has pledged sweeping sanctions would take place of Russian troops cross the Ukrainian border.