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article imageUkraine lands troops to fight pro-Russia separatists

By Nathan Salant     Apr 15, 2014 in World
Kramatorsk - Ukraine launched its counterattack Tuesday against protesters who seized buildings in the east but has had only limited success so far.
Soldiers arrived in helicopters at the eastern city of Kramatorsk but retreated into barracks after a hostile reception from local residents, according to the Reuters news service.
Ukraine's acting president, Oleksander Turchinov, announced in Kiev that the airbase at Kramatorsk had been "liberated" even though no anti-government militants were around, Reuters said.
A Ukrainian officer told a crowd of people who had gathered that he would direct the country's "anti-terrorist operation" that was promised more than a week ago after pro-Russia activists began seizing government buildings.
But Ukraine pulled its troops back after a scuffle with people carrying Russian flags, Reuters said.
Ukraine's state security service also said an "anti-terrorist" operation was in progress in nearby Slavyansk, but there were no reports of fighting, Reuters said.
But Ukraine's apparent determination to fight back against militants it claims are being backed by the Russian Federation, after weeks of apparent timidity, could signal a dangerous new chapter in eastern European history.
The crisis involving Ukraine and the Kremlin already has caused relations between Russia and the West to sink to their lowest point since the Cold War, Reuters said.
But with Russia's seizure of Crimea last month and its massing of tens of thousands of troops on the border, diplomats fear Moscow intends to seize all of eastern Ukraine or even more.
Russia's foreign ministry said it was "deeply concerned" by reports of casualties in eastern Ukraine, but Reuters was unable to ascertain where such incidents had taken place.
A White House spokesman said US President Barack Obama said Ukraine was obligated to respond to "provocations."
The White House also said was considering increasing mild economic and travel sanctions imposed on Russian leaders and backed by the European Union after the annexation of Crimea.
But diplomats from Ukraine, Russia, the EU and the United States are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss easing tensions, so any further penalties were likely to be on hold until then, Reuters said.
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