The Ukrainian defense ministry has issued a statement confirming that Ukraine's air-defense forces have been placed in "operation readiness" in the nation's southern regions. This comes on the heels of the pro-Russian separatists taking OSCE observers hostage - and later "parading" them on local TV (where they explained they were not being treated badly). In another odd twist, pro-Russian forces (wearing British militrary fatigues) have taken over the region's TV station based in Donetsk. Twitter rumors suggest there has been a full military mobilization in Kharkiv - yet to be confirmed; but Germany's deputy forign minister Erler confirmed the EU is set to widen "stage-two" sanctions against Russia tomorrow and may discuss further sanctions later in the week.
Ukraine Air-Defense Forces Being Readied...
Ukraine air-defense forces have been placed in “operational readiness” in the country’s southern regions, Defense Ministry says in statement.
- *UKRAINE AIR-DEFENSE FORCES IN `OPERATIONAL READINESS' IN SOUTH
And as The BBC reports, Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine have shown seized European military observers to the media, amid attempts to secure their immediate release.
One of the observers presented in the city of Sloviansk said that none of the group had been harmed.
A team from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is hoping to begin negotiations.
The gunmen continue to occupy official buildings in a dozen eastern cities, defying the government in Kiev.
As WaPo reports,
"We wish from the bottom of our hearts to go back to our nations as soon and as quickly as possible," one of the observers, German Col. Axel Schneider, said at a news conference arranged by his captors.
Schneider said the men had "not been touched" and were in good health, but he gave no indication of when they might be freed.
But in another twists, The BBC notes, separatists in Donetsk seized control of the regional television and radio headquarters, demanding that broadcasts by Russian state channels be switched back on, in place of Ukrainian-language services.
Wearing British Military clothes....
In a separate development on Sunday, pro-Russian gunmen said they had captured three Ukrainian security services members overnight in eastern Ukraine. Kiev later confirmed a number of its officers had been seized.
Reuters reports that the Russian-backed separatists are saying that they would release the OSCE observers who were kidnapped yesterday if Kiev agreed to release several political figures who are currently in prison on accusations of fostering separatism:
Asked about a prisoner exchange, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, de facto mayor of Slaviansk, told reporters: "The Kiev junta has our fellows and comrades therefore, if there is a possibility, we are ready for an exchange."
"They (members of the observer mission) are in alright condition. One of the soldiers suffers from diabetes, but it is not a serious condition, he is on tablets. There is medicine there is food," said Ponomaryov.
"They were soldiers on our territory without our permission, of course they are prisoners," he said. "We won't know what to do until we determine who they are, what kind of activities, for what purpose they came here."
And Europe is stepping up its sanctions...
- *EU SET TO WIDEN STAGE-TWO RUSSIA SANCTIONS TOMORROW, ERLER SAYS
- *EU MAY DISCUSS RUSSIA ECONOMIC SANCTIONS THIS WEEK, ERLER SAYS
As Bloomberg reports,
“I have the impression” that European Union will extend visa bans and asset freezes to “maybe another 15 people” over Russia’s actions in Ukraine, German Deputy Foreign Minister Gernot Erler says.
“Quite possible” that EU will also discuss “entering third stage,” meaning economic sanctions against Russia, this week: Erler in ZDF television interview.
Doesn’t name potential sanctions targets
EU would first have to agree on which economic sanctions to apply: Erler
“Concerned about developments because we actually don’t know what the Russians want”: Erler
“We are now taking the stage-two sanctions to the limit and will be strengthening them another notch tomorrow,” Elmar Brok, European Parliament member from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, says in ZDF television interview. “If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to move to economic sanctions during the week ahead.”
“I don’t think” that Merkel sees it differently: Brok on ZDF
Well that just about sums it all up - prepare 2nd round of sanctions, readying 3rd but have no real idea what it will do...