Thursday, June 05, 2014

Border Guards in Ukraine Abandon Posts

Rebel fighters examined damaged rifles at a border guard base that they seized Wednesday near Luhansk, Ukraine. Credit Igor Golovniov/Associated Press
By SABRINA TAVERNISE and SERGEY PONOMAREV, NYT, JUNE 4, 2014

CHERVONOPARTIZANSK, Ukraine — Border guards here, near the Russian border in eastern Ukraine, fled their posts for fear of attacks by separatist militias on Wednesday, helping open a strategic corridor for the transport of goods, contraband and war material from Russia that could lead to a widening of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

As evening fell in this small frontier town, a convoy of about 20 trucks, minivans and cars containing border guards and their families, including children, bumped over the rutted roads here along Ukraine’s eastern frontier with Russia. Their commander, who gave his name only as Sergei, said they had received confused orders but that they decided to leave, fearing for their lives and their families’ safety.

Earlier on Wednesday, rebels overran the border guards’ central command headquarters in Luhansk, unplugging a large stretch of Ukraine’s southeastern border from central government oversight. A number of border guards were wounded in the siege that lasted two days and left the complex windowless, riddled with bullets, and partly burned. Rebels hauled away boxes of weapons and other items on Wednesday.

Against this background, Ukraine’s military reported gains in the area around Slovyansk, a rebel stronghold that is now almost entirely encircled by government forces.

(More here.)

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