Clamp-down on pro-Russia militants under way in Ukraine - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ukrainian military convoy dispatched against pro-Russian militants

A convoy of Ukrainian soldiers and armored personnel carriers leave the city of Donetsk heading east. (Source: CNN) A convoy of Ukrainian soldiers and armored personnel carriers leave the city of Donetsk heading east. (Source: CNN)

(RNN/CNN) – Ukraine's acting president, Olexander Turchynov, said the threatened clamp-down on pro-Russia militants in the eastern part of the country is under way, now that a government deadline has passed for separatists to lay down their arms.

Turchynov had warned protestors to disarm or they would face a full-scale anti-terrorist operation by the Ukrainian military.

Officials in Kiev say a Ukrainian National Guard battalion of 350 troops was sent to the Donetsk region Tuesday. A Ukrainian general says separatists who don't lay down their arms "will be destroyed."

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.N., Yuriy Sergeyev, said his government will not allow what happened in Crimea in March to also occur in eastern Ukraine and that the actions by the Russian Federation poses a serious threat to Ukraine and international peace and stability.

"We call upon Russian partners again to stop immediately actions aimed at undermining sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," Sergeyev said. "We demand to leave us in peace."

The crisis in Ukraine has been escalating recently as pro-Russian separatists took over multiple buildings in at least 10 east Ukrainian towns.

Over the weekend, one person was killed and several others were wounded in clashes between pro-Ukrainian crowds and pro-Russian separatists.

Samantha Powers, the U.S. Ambassador the U.N., is accusing Russia of spreading disinformation and inciting instability in Ukraine.

"This instability was written and choreographed in and by Russia," Powers said.

NATO Secretary General, Anders Rasmussen, has called on Russia to stop destabilizing the situation in Ukraine and pull back its troops from the country.

"Russia should stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution," Rasmussen said.

On Monday, President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the Ukrainian crisis, urging Putin to withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine's border and use his influence to push pro-Russian groups to end their standoff.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Ukrainian military forces clashed with about 30 armed gunmen at a small airport near Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine. This is the first military action taken against pro-Russian militants.

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