4 May 2014

Ukraine moves towards civil war

Two days of chaos and violence in east and south-east Ukraine appeared on Saturday to be pushing the country ever closer to civil war, as the death toll rose to 42 following a military counter-offensive launched by authorities in Kiev against pro-Russia rebels.

donetsk republic

An angry crowd confronted police outside the trade union building in Odessa where dozens of pro-Russia activists died on Friday night in a blaze started during clashes with pro-Ukraine protesters. Fighting continued in the east as the Ukrainian army continued to oust pro-Russia rebels.

The region has been rocked by unrest since the new government in Kiev came to power following demonstrations that ousted pro-Russia president Viktor Yanukovych at the end of February. Many in Ukraine's east, which has strong economic and cultural ties with Russia, say they now feel marginalised. What began as small-scale unrest rapidly escalated into an armed rebellion as pro-Russia militia groups seized government buildings. Kiev and its western allies have accused the Kremlin of orchestrating the chaos, which follows a Putin-backed putsch that resulted in Crimea's annexation last month.

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