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AKIPRESS.COM - Ukrainian forces killed up to five protesters in the east of the country, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of consequences if Kiev used the army against its own people, The Star reported.
Interior Ministry forces backed by the army removed three checkpoints manned by armed groups in the protester-controlled town of Slaviansk, the ministry said in a statement.
“During the armed clash up to five terrorists were eliminated,” it said, adding that one person had been wounded on the side of government forces.
Under an international accord signed in Geneva last week, illegal armed groups, including the rebels occupying about a dozen public buildings in the largely Russian-speaking east, are supposed to disarm and go home.
In St. Petersburg, Putin said that if the authorities in Kiev had used the army in eastern Ukraine, this would be a very serious crime against its own people.
“It is just a punitive operation and it will of course incur consequences for the people making these decisions, including (an effect) on our interstate relations,” Putin said in a televised meeting with regional media.
The Geneva agreement, signed by Russia, the United States, Ukraine and the European Union, is already in trouble as Kiev launches its offensive to regain control of the east.
Washington still accuses Moscow of fomenting unrest in the east. Russia denies this and counters that Europe and the United States are supporting an illegitimate government in Kiev.