This article was written by guest contributor Jason Ditz.
The loss of several key military/national guard bases in the northeastern Luhansk Oblast has Ukraine’s interim government on edge about their ongoing military invasion of the east of the country, and has several leaders pushing for an immediate declaration of martial law throughout the region.
Outgoing Interim President Oleksandr Turchinov, who will be replaced on Saturday with the inauguration of President Petro Porchenko, urged the leaders of all security-related agencies and ministries to begin “urgently” to consider the declaration.
A statement from Turchinov’s office said martial law was needed to “stop the further spread of and put an end to an armed conflict in Ukrainian territory,” and could cover both Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.
Shortly after Turchinov’s interim government took power, protests against their rule erupted in the eastern oblasts, where the majority is ethnic Russian and supported the ousted elected government. Eventually, this has resulted in a full-scale separatist movement, which the interim government dubbed “terrorists,” and a military invasion of the regions to bring them back under the control of Kiev’s central government.
The fighting has mostly centered around the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk in the northern portion of Donetsk Oblast, and yesterday the military claimed to have killed “more than 300” rebels in Slovyansk alone in 24 hours. The mayor of Slovyansk denies the claim, and said only 12 fighters were lost.
While the military’s offensive centers of northern Donetsk, the rebels seem to be gaining a lot of ground in Luhansk, where they have taken several military bases in recent days, conducting protracted gunbattles until the troops therein were forced to flee.
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