As it happened: East Ukraine crisis

Key points

  • Ukraine's president pledges a full-scale "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Russian militants
  • Armed men have seized official buildings in a number of cities in the eastern Donetsk region
  • A Ukrainian officer is killed in a gun battle with pro-Russian militants on the outskirts of Sloviansk
  • Russia warned earlier that any use of force in east Ukraine could scupper crisis talks due this week
  • The West accuses Moscow of inciting the trouble. The Kremlin denies the charge.
  • All times BST

Live text


  • Mike Hills 
  • Simeon Paterson 
  • Joe Boyle 
  • Ravin Sampat 
  • Bernadette McCague 

Last updated 13 April 2014


Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the unfolding situation in eastern Ukraine, where the national government has launched an "anti-terrorist operation" in the city of Sloviansk. Ukrainian forces are trying to take back control of the local police HQ, which is being held by pro-Russian activists.


Yesterday armed men took over police stations and official buildings in Sloviansk and two other eastern towns - Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka. Russia has warned that any use of force in eastern Ukraine could scupper crisis talks due later this week.


There were reports of gunfire and explosions in Sloviansk this morning and video purportedly showing a Ukrainian helicopter flying low over the city has also surfaced - but so far we've had no confirmed reports of military movement in the city.


Carl Bildt, Foreign Minister of Sweden

tweets: It was a coordinated armed action to seize control over key parts of Eastern Ukraine yesterday. Would not have happened without Russia.


Journalist David Patrikarakos, who is in Sloviansk, tweets: "Just tried to get into the barricades again. Was told to leave - crowd forming human chain - armed running to and fro." He adds: "Atmosphere electric here - the people are bracing for conflict. It's incredibly hot."

A gunman stands guard next to a barricade in front of the police HQ in Sloviansk - 13 April 2014 A gunman at the barricade outside the police HQ in Sloviansk this morning


Ben Judah, a British author and Russia analyst, has been talking to the BBC World Service this morning about the events in eastern Ukraine. He believes the unidentified gunmen that took control of several police stations in the region yesterday are part of "a world class special operations campaign" led by the Russians. "Russia's invasion of Ukraine has in a a sense already begun," Mr Judah added.


Journalist Graham Phillips, who is in Sloviansk,

tweets: Highly tense, talk of operatives coming coursing through crowd

Crowd in Sloviansk, Ukraine


Some images have begun to emerge from the storming of a police station in Kramatorsk yesterday. Russian news agency Itar Tass has published several pictures of the "people's militia" that forced local police to hand over the building. There is also video of the moment the men arrived. They fired warning shots and barged policemen out of their way in what looked like a fairly professional, co-ordinated offensive.

Most of the armed men have been eager to avoid photos, but one group in Sloviansk were happy to pose for a picture taken by photographer Maxim Dondyuk.

Pro-Russian gunmen pose for a photo after they seized the police station in Sloviansk


BBC Monitoring reports that Serhiy Taruta, the governor of Donetsk, has said that "all legitimate means" will be used to restore order in the region. In a statement, he said the takeover of police stations and government buildings were "acts of terror" and would be dealt with by the security services. "Unidentified armed men have been capturing police departments across the region, pillaging them and arming the local population," he said.