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Moscow threatens response if Russians attacked in Ukraine

W E D N E S D AY 23 APRIL 2014

As Kiev announces the end of an Easte t uce and e!"aunches its #anti!te o ist o$e ation# in easte n %& aine' Russia (a ns it (i"" eta"iate if its citi)ens a e th eatened*

The threat by Russia came as US troops were headed to the region and Ukrainan officials ordered a new "anti-terrorist" operation against proRussian separatists holding a string of eastern towns. Ukraine's First eputy !rime "inister #itali $arema earlier told reporters

that officials were "working on the destruction of gangster groups in %ramatorsk& Slo'iansk and other cities in the regions". Russia later issued a warning that it would respond if its interests were attacked in Ukraine& as pro-%remlin rebels in the resti'e east of the country braced for a new military offensi'e by %ie'. onetsk and (uhansk

Russia Foreign "inister Sergei (a'ro' told Russia Today) "*f we are attacked& we would certainly respond. There is no reason not to belie'e that the +mericans are running the show.

"*f our interests& our legitimate interests& the interests of Russians ha'e been attacked directly& like they were in South ,ssetia for e-ample& * do not see any other way but to respond in accordance with international law&" "r (a'ro' said& referring to a separatist territory in .eorgia into which "oscow sent troops in +ugust /001. "oscow also said it was "e-tremely surprised by the distorted interpretation 2of the agreement3 by the %ie' authorities and the +merican partners." *t said that while the .ene'a agreement last week called for illegal armed groups to disarm& "%ie' and 4ashington& as well as se'eral 5uropean capitals& continue to insist only on the need for Ukrainian citi6ens protecting their rights in south-eastern Ukraine to disarm" - a reference to pro-Russian separatists. "+t the same time& they are closing their eyes to continuing pro'ocati'e actions by fighters from radical right-wing forces&" it said& referring to Ukrainian nationalist groups.

The Russian statement repeated "oscow's calls for the immediate withdrawal of Ukrainian military units from south-eastern Ukraine and the start of an inclusi'e dialogue that would embrace all the former So'iet republic's regions and political forces.

'Brutally tortured' %ie''s decision to resume its security operation in the east was prompted in part by the disco'ery of two bodies "brutally tortured" in a ri'er near Sla'iansk. ,ne resembled #olodymyr Rybak& a member of the same 7atki'shchyna party as Ukraine's acting president.

+ 'ideo released on a local news site& gorlo' appeared to show Rybak being confronted by an angry crowd outside the town hall in 8orli'ka& where he was a councillor. *n the footage& Rybak can be seen being manhandled by se'eral men& among them a masked man in camouflage& while other people hurl abuse.

+fter se'eral minutes& Rybak appears able to walk away. The *nterior "inistry said he was seen being bundled into a car by masked men in camouflage later that day. 8is body& and that of a second man& was found

on Saturday in a ri'er near Sla'iansk.

*n Sla'iansk itself& the militia is holding three 9ournalists& including one US citi6en& Simon ,stro'sky& who works for the online news site #ice :ews.

The separatists say they themsel'es are 'ictims of 'iolence and persecution by the Ukrainians authorities and illegal armed groups which& they say& support %ie'. 'Radical Islam' ,n 4ednesday Tony 7lair urged the west to put aside differences with Russia o'er Ukraine to focus on tackling the threat from radical *slam.

"r 7lair said) "The threat of this radical *slam is not abating. *t is growing. *t is spreading across the world. "*t is destabilising communities and e'en nations. *t is undermining the possibility of peaceful co-e-istence in an era of globalisation. "+nd in the face of this threat we seem curiously reluctant to acknowledge it and powerless to counter it effecti'ely."