Ukraine to launch 'full-scale' offensive against rebels involving army

KIEV Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:05pm IST

Armed pro-Russian protesters escort a comrade who is carrying an icon, which they said was found in the seized office of the SBU state security service, in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine April 13, 2014. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

Armed pro-Russian protesters escort a comrade who is carrying an icon, which they said was found in the seized office of the SBU state security service, in Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine April 13, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov

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KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine's authorities plan to launch a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" involving the army against pro-Russian separatist militants, the acting president said on Sunday.

Oleksander Turchinov said in a televised address to the nation that Russia was waging a war against Ukraine by sowing disorder in the east of the country, but he offered not to prosecute any militants who gave up their weapons by Monday morning.

Referring to the death of a state security officer and the wounding of other members of law-enforcement bodies in an earlier clash with pro-Russian militants near the town of Slaviansk, he said: "The blood of Ukrainian heroes has been shed in a war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine.

"The aggressor has not stopped and is continuing to sow disorder in the east of the country," he said, referring to a rash of attacks on state buildings by pro-Russian militants in towns in Russia-speaking areas of the east.

Kiev authorities say the separatists rebellions have been inspired and directed by the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies.

"The National Security and Defence Council has decided to launch a full-scale anti-terrorist operation involving the armed forces of Ukraine," he declared.

"We will not allow Russia to repeat the Crimean scenario in the eastern regions of the country," referring to Moscow's annexation of the peninsula following its take-over by pro-Russian militants.

(Writing Richard Balmforth; Editing by Conor Humphries)

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