In a statement, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said the unnamed
diplomat was detained on Wednesday while undertaking "intelligence
Ukraine accuses Russia of orchestrating the fall of towns and cities
across its industrial east to pro-Russian separatists over the past
month, spearheaded by well-organized gunmen in masks and military
Russia denies having any part in the rebellion, but has warned it
reserves the right to intervene to protect ethnic Russians — following its annexation of Crimea in late March — and has massed
tens of thousands of troops on its western frontier with Ukraine.
"The military-naval attaché of the embassy of the Russian Federation
in Ukraine is declared persona non grata in connection with his
actions, which are not in accordance with his diplomatic status,"
the ministry said.
The diplomat was ordered to leave, though the statement mentioned no
deadline. There was no immediate response from Moscow, which like
Kiev is observing the May 1 holiday.
Ukraine's pro-Western leaders conceded on Wednesday they were
"helpless" to counter the fall of government buildings and police
stations to the separatists in the Donbass coal and steel belt of
eastern Ukraine, source of around a third of the country's
Having seized key buildings in the capital of the easternmost
province, Luhansk, on Tuesday, gunmen took control at dawn on
Wednesday in the nearby towns of Horlivka and Alchevsk.
In Donetsk, the biggest city to fall, mainly Russian-speaking
separatists have declared a "People's Republic of Donetsk" and
called a referendum on secession for May 11, threatening to undercut
a planned presidential election in Ukraine two weeks later.
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Ukraine hopes the presidential poll will help restore order after
five months of civil turmoil that saw Moscow-backed president Viktor
Yanukovich toppled after street protests and gun battles in central
Kiev, and Russia's subsequent annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
Pro-Western authorities that took power with Yanukovich's ouster
accuse Russia of planning to disrupt the presidential election,
create instability and frustrate the new government's hopes of
Overnight, the state security guard, responsible for securing key
government sites and officials, carried out a small drill in central
Kiev. Four armored personnel carriers trundled through the streets
to parliament, where several dozen troops took position as if
responding to a threat.
The guard's commander, Valery Galetey, said they were training for
possible "provocations" during the May 25 election.
On Tuesday, Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine's acting president, said
the armed forces were on full alert for a Russian invasion.
That prompted a return volley from Moscow, where the Foreign
Ministry demanded that Kiev "immediately ceases the bellicose
rhetoric, which is aimed at intimidating its own population".
(Writing by Matt Robinson; editing by Will Waterman)
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