WASHINGTON — The Ukrainian military killed five pro-Moscow rebels this past Thursday as they tried to dislodge the rebels from their strongholds in eastern Ukraine.
Reuters reported that Russia began army drills along the border in response, which raised fears that they will eventually invade the eastern region. An American envoy estimated there were tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukraine-Russia border.
This is the first time that the new interim Ukrainian government has responded with lethal force to put down the widespread eastern insurgency within their country. The rebels resisted efforts to make peace in recent weeks and previous anti-rebel operations were an embarrassment for the Ukrainian military. It is a major concern because eastern Ukraine is home to most of the industrial capacity of the country.
The country’s Interior Ministry said it removed three checkpoints maintained by the pro-Russia rebels in the city of Slaviansk, controlled by the rebels. The offensive was abandoned after the Russian troops were mobilized along the border, fearing a full-scale invasion.
The current crisis in Ukraine started after Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, where the Ukrainian military was forced to withdraw and concede defeat after weeks of standoffs and public embarrassment.