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AKIPRESS.COM - U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea, Kantipur Online reported today.
Armed pro-Moscow protesters were still occupying Ukrainian government buildings in two cities in the largely Russian-speaking east on Tuesday, although police ended a third occupation in a night-time operation.
Ukraine's security service said separatists occupying the security headquarters in Luhansk had planted bombs in the building and were holding as many as 60 hostages. Activists in the building denied they had explosives or hostages, but said they had seized an armory full of automatic rifles.
The Ukraine government says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country. Kerry said he feared Moscow might repeat its Crimean operation.
“It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours,” he said in Washington, and this “could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea.”
Moscow annexed the Black Sea peninsula last month after a referendum.
Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Western accusations that Moscow was destabilizing Ukraine, saying the situation could improve only if Kiev took into account the interests of Russian-speaking regions.
Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union will hold a ministerial meeting next week to discuss the Ukraine crisis.