Days after an assassination attempt on the pro-Russia mayor of the nation’s second-largest city, violence has flared up across Ukraine as Vladimir Putin’s ongoing military campaign in the region continues.
Kharkiv Mayor Gennady Kernes, who was shot in the back as he was out jogging Monday, is beginning a lengthy recovery as his city and others across the nation devolve into hotbeds of violent attacks between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
At least five individuals required hospitalization following an attack by pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk earlier this week. Wielding bats, the aggressors disrupted a pro-Ukraine march in the city.
Growing violence was too much even for police equipped with riot shields who were forced by the mob to abandon their defenses. That attack came just hours after Russian forces overtook police headquarters in Slavyansk.
Though Russian forces continue to target Karkiv for a takeover, police in the city have so far been successful in keeping the occupiers at bay.
While protesters initially gained control of an administration building, authorities were able to push back and reclaim the facility. Efforts to overpower demonstrators in cities like Donetsk and Luhansk, however, have not been as successful.
A police building in Konstantinovka was also occupied by pro-Russian separatists who claimed there was no opposition to their campaign. One armed demonstrator said the group “took it without a single shot being fired,” claiming local police joined in their effort.
Some Ukrainian soldiers expressed displeasure with the thought of bearing arms against fellow citizens as some were ordered to do during a standoff at an airfield near Kramatorsk.
“We shot back because we were commanded to do so,” one soldier said, “but we don’t want to fire on our own people. We just want to go home.”
At least 40 individuals – consisting of journalists, military personnel, security officers, and a translator –are being held hostage by pro-Russian militants according to reports. Most are being held in a Slavyansk prison.
American and European governments are expected to enact further sanctions against Russian officials in the wake of this escalated violence.
Photo Credit: Anton Holoborodko (Creative Commons)