Russia Says U.S. Mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine
Russian media reports today the American security firm Greystone has teamed up with Right Sector fascists in a bid to prevent eastern Ukraine from joining the Russian Federation.
#Russia MFA: 150 American 'Greystone' experts uniformed as Falcon involved to fight pro-#Kremlin forces in #Ukraine http://t.co/OyYwRqaFDG
— Ukraine Reporter (@StateOfUkraine) April 7, 2014
Greystone is a former Xe (aka Blackwater) affiliate with offices in Virginia and the United Arab Emirates. Employing “personnel from the best militaries throughout the world,” the company offers “large scale stability operations requiring large numbers of people to assist in securing a region.”
“We are particularly concerned that the operation involves some 150 American mercenaries from a private company Greystone Ltd., dressed in the uniform of the [Ukrainian] special task police unit Sokol,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We urge [Kyiv] to immediately stop all military preparations which could lead to a civil war.”
On March 10, Infowars.com reported the presence of corporate mercenaries in Donetsk, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine on the Kalmius River. A video posted on Youtube showed men with weapons and body armor on a street where a pro-Russian demonstration was held. A Russian diplomat told Interfax 300 employees of Blackwater, now known as Academi, had arrived in the pro-Russian city.
The mercenaries in Donetsk “are soldiers of fortune proficient in combat operations,” a diplomatic source told Interfax, according to the Daily Mail. “Most of them had operated under private contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and other states. Most of them come from the United States.”
On the weekend activists in eastern Ukraine occupied government buildings in the cities of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv. Members of the regional legislature in the industrial center of Donetsk proclaimed the city a People’s Republic on Monday. Civilians rallied at the Donetsk Regional city administration building and hoisted a Russian flag. The Security Services Building in Luhansk was also occupied by protesters.
The government blames “separatist groups coordinated by Russian special services” for the occupations. “Enemies of Ukraine are trying to play out the Crimean scenario, but we will not let this happen,” said coup President Oleksandr Turchynov on Ukrainian television.
In response to the occupations Ukrainian special forces cleared protesters from the headquarters of Ukrainian security services in Donetsk. An “anti-terrorist” operation in Kharkiv cleared a government building and detained around 70 people, according to the coup Interior Ministry. The arrested activists will be taken to the cities of Poltava and Zaporijya and charged with “separatism, violence and taking part in mass protest,” according to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Natalia Stativko.
Vitaly Yarema, interim Deputy Prime Minister for the junta in Kyiv, said security forces would not storm the regional legislature. Victoria Syumar, deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council, told the media the junta is negotiating with activists.
On Tuesday, in response to growing separatism, the Ukrainian Parliament modified the penal code. Threatening the territorial integrity and national security of Ukraine is now punishable by three to five years in prison.
Also on Tuesday, two members of the neofascist Svoboda Party stormed the rostrum in Parliament and removed communist Petro Symonenko after he blamed ultra-nationalists of playing into the hands of Russia by using extremist tactics during demonstrations prior to the coup. A brawl between members of Svoboda and the Communist Party of Ukraine ensued.