Shots Fired as Ukraine Says It Has Retaken Airport

Tanks spotted, but so far no action reported
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
Updated Apr 15, 2014 11:25 AM CDT
Ukraine: We're Cracking Down —Really
Ukrainian soldiers sit on top of military vehicles with Ukrainian national flags in a field about 44 miles from the separatist-held eastern town of Slovyansk, April 14, 2014.   (AP Photo/Russian Reporter magazine, Maxim Dondyuk)

Ukraine appears to have at last followed through on its threats to use military force against separatists in the east. Heavy gunfire rang out inside Kramatorsk air base today, Sky News reports. Interim Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov announced that Ukrainian troops had retaken the base, driving out the pro-Russian militiamen who had been holding it, the AP reports. Russian state-controlled TV is reporting that 11 were killed in the fighting. Earlier, separatists voluntarily surrendered a police headquarters in the same town. It was the first military action since separatists ignored Kiev's deadline to clear out, which passed more than 24 hours ago.

Earlier today, Turchinov had announced that "anti-terrorist operations" had begun, but would unfold "in a considered way." Ukrainian tanks have also been spotted less than 44 miles from Slovyansk, a city under tight insurgent control, the AP reports. Separatist checkpoints have sprung up all along roads leading into the city—there was even a Russian flag flying at one of them. Russia condemned the attack. "I will be brief: Ukraine is on the brink of civil war," Dmitry Medvedev said. "It's frightening." (More Ukraine stories.)

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