Kiev: We've Lost Control of East

Security forces 'helpless,' president says

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted May 1, 2014 2:17 AM CDT | Updated May 1, 2014 6:33 AM CDT

(Newser) – Is the battle for eastern Ukraine over? The country's acting president has admitted that Kiev has lost control of eastern regions and security forces are "helpless" against pro-Russia gunmen who have seized control of government buildings, the Guardian reports." It is hard to accept but it’s the truth," Oleksandr Turchnynov said in a stark assessment of the situation. "The majority of law enforcers in the east are incapable of performing their duties," he said, and many of them have defected to the rebel side, taking their weapons with them. Instead of trying to regain control of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, he said, security forces will focus on defending the provinces of Kharkiv in the east and Odessa in the west.

With the admission of loss of control, the conflict "seemed to enter a new and more dangerous phase," the New York Times finds. It's not clear whether Ukraine will now face dismemberment, with Moscow taking control of eastern regions, but the unrest has seriously destabilized the country ahead of presidential elections scheduled for May 25. The pro-Russia militants plan to hold their own vote on autonomy two weeks earlier. Moscow, which has stationed around 40,000 troops just across the border, denies any role in the unrest but John Kerry has said that the US has recordings of Russians giving orders to operatives in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine announced today that it detained Russia's military attaché to Kiev on suspicion of spying yesterday, Reuters reports. He has been ordered to leave.

Pro-Russian gunmen in camouflage uniforms guard an entrance of an administration building they seized in Luhansk earlier this week.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
A masked pro-Russia militiaman holds his machine gun at a barricade in front of the occupied administration building in Konstantinovka, near Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.   (AP Photo/Manu Brabo)
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