Violence spreads in east Ukraine

 
Kate McCann
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THE UKRAINIAN government deployed forces in the east of the country yesterday, as Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev warned that Ukraine is on the brink of a civil war.

Government forces moved into the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, both scenes of violent clashes over the last few days. At the airport in Kramatorsk, Ukrainian forces ejected pro-Russian troops and there was a tense standoff after the Ukrainians fired shots. Unconfirmed reports suggest that some people were fatally wounded.

The advancement of Ukrainian military into the east of the country comes after acting President Oleksander Turchynov announced an anti-terrorist operation to remove pro-Russian militia from government buildings in a number of towns.

A deadline for forces, thought to be acting on behalf of President Putin, to leave the country was passed earlier in the week.

As clashes continued markets remained cautious, with the Moscow stock exchange closing 2.52 per cent down and shares in Russian gas giant Gazprom falling 2.48 per cent.

Meanwhile, the US indicated that it will not issue further sanctions against Russia ahead of a meeting tomorrow between Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US in Geneva. However, it did reiterate its support for the Ukrainian government.

The meeting will be the first time all four major players have met since the crisis began.