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Mayor of eastern Ukrainian city shot as crisis escalates, West prepares more sanctions

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A World War II monument in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, where the mayor was shot in the back Monday (Image credit: Espen Rosenquist/Flickr)

A World War II monument in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov, where the mayor was shot in the back Monday (Image credit: Espen Rosenquist/Flickr)

An assassination attempt on the mayor of the major eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv by unidentified gunmen marked a significant escalation of the crisis in Ukraine as Western nations prepare more sanctions on Russia over the unrest.

Read our latest: “Ukrainian city of Sloviansk surrounded by Ukrainian forces, all entrances blocked” and “Russia launches military drills near Ukrainian border, Ukrainian military kills rebels

Gennady Kernes, the mayor of Kharkiv, the second-largest city in Ukraine, was attempting to navigate a middle course in the embattled eastern part of his country, according to The New York Times.

Pro-Russian militants continue to occupy government buildings and control a great deal of eastern Ukraine. The interim government in Kiev has “seemed largely powerless to dislodge pro-Russian militants and regain control of the east,” the Times notes.

Kernes was shot in the back Monday morning and underwent emergency surgery. At the time of writing, Kernes was reported to be in “grave” condition, according to USA Today.

In the past, the Ukrainian government accused Kernes of organizing activists in Kiev who ousted former president Viktor Yanukovych, though recently Kernes said he does not support pro-Russian separatists or the annexation of any Ukrainian territory.

Monday also saw clashes between pro- and anti-Russian activists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

The European military observers captured by armed separatists on Friday in eastern Ukraine are still being held hostage, though one was released for health reasons, according to USA Today.

The head of the German-led delegation said he believed the European observers are being held as a bargaining chip and that the capture of the individuals was outrageous.

On Sunday, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observers and members of the Ukrainian military, were put on display in front of reporters under armed guard.

“The public parading of the OSCE observers and Ukrainian security forces as prisoners is revolting and blatantly hurts the dignity of the victims,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.

The captives, who are from Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland, are still held by pro-Russian separatists in Slovyansk.

The militants said that they want to exchange their prisoners for pro-Russian militants held by the Ukrainian government, though the government said they refuse to negotiate with the separatists.

The United States announced a new round of sanctions on Russians over the events in Ukraine, targeting seven Russian officials linked to President Vladimir Putin.

The sanctions include the freezing of their assets and banning them from obtaining U.S. visas.

The U.S. also threatened to impose additional sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy if there are indications of further Russian government involvement in the continued unrest in eastern Ukraine, according to NPR.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian military is reportedly trying to get their military up to speed for a possible clash with Russia.

Interim Ukrainian President Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that the previous pro-Russian government “deliberately dismantled” their military, leaving them with outdated and neglected military equipment.

“Because its leaders have tended to be pro-Russian, Ukraine’s military is as much designed not to fight Russia as it is to fight it,” Ben Friedman, who studies defense policy at the CATO Institute, said to Fox News.

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One Response to Mayor of eastern Ukrainian city shot as crisis escalates, West prepares more sanctions

  1. Jay Kenney April 28, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    And thus, it begins…sadly…


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