Russian-backed rebels are venturing into western and central areas of Ukraine, while Russian troops are consolidating the separatist-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to a Kyiv Post account of a briefing by the Ukraine security service SBU Wednesday. The rebels reportedly have acted in a number of cities all around Ukraine, including Kiev and Odessa.
“The geography of crimes and sabotage has expanded significantly. It now includes not only east but also west,” Markian Lubkivsky, an adviser to SBU leader Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, said at the briefing.
One recent attempt at destabilization was foiled by the security service after separatists attempted to create a so-called people’s republic of Pidkarpatska Rus in Zakarpattia oblast. The rebels tried to take over government, military and other strategic infrastructure there at the behest of the Russian intelligence service, according to Olena Hiklianska, an SBU representative quoted by the Kyiv Post.
Since the SBU’s anti-terrorist operation began in April, the security service has detained more than 1,000 people, including Ukrainian and Russians, over their suspected involvement in separatist activities, Hiklianska said.
SBU operatives have been watching Kharkiv intently for a long time because they believed it to be an area at high risk of pro-Russian activity, as Reuters reported. However, a bomb blast there Nov. 25 has further destabilized the region, Lubkivsky said. He warned journalists to be careful when crossing borders not controlled by Ukrainian forces.
“Terrorists plan to use human and technical resources of leading foreign media to instigate anti-Ukrainian moods on the territories which are temporarily controlled by insurgents,” the Kyiv Post quoted Lubkivsky as saying. “Journalists are invited and brought to the bases of Ukrainian servicemen and then those bases are attacked. Terrorists are interested in victims among foreign media.”