Kiev's deadline for the armed protesters in eastern Ukraine to stand down came and passed with little fanfare. Now, the government has made good on its threat.
Sunday, Ukraine's acting president issued an ultimatum for the protesters demanding closer ties with Russia— disarm or deal with Ukraine's armed forces. (Via YouTube / turchynov)
The protesters pretty much ignored that deadline. Monday, armed men were still occupying government buildings in Horlivka, Donetsk and Slaviansk. (Via Euronews)
By Tuesday, Kiev had launched a so-called "anti-terrorist operation," deploying troops to rein in the armed men. Now, you'll hear these men called different things, depending on where you live. (Via Sky News)
Russian news outlets are using terms like, "anti-fascist freedom fighters" to describe them. (Via Pravda)
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS: "This is not Ukrainians that are pro-Russia rising up saying this is an injustice that we're a part of this democratic society called Ukraine. This is instigated by Russia." (Via CNN)
Kiev accuses Moscow of orchestrating the unrest in eastern Ukraine and fears the clashes could serve as a pretext for invasion.
Russia is believed to have tens of thousands of troops stationed along Ukraine’s eastern border ready to move within 12 hours. Russia insists the troops are there strictly for military exercises. (Via BBC)
A correspondent for Time says Ukraine is left in a difficult position when dealing with the protesters. “Continued lack of military response could embolden pro-Russia groups, but an armed crackdown could prompt the invasion of Russian troops.”
But New York Times columnist Neil MacFarquhar argues the West has it all wrong. Russia’s endgame is influence in eastern Ukraine, not invasion. “It wants Kiev to adopt a federal system of government giving far more power to the governors across Ukraine."
The White House says President Obama asked President Vladimir Putin in a phone call Monday to withdraw Russian troops from the border and use his influence to get the separatists to back down. For his part, Putin denied any Russian interference in Ukraine.