U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, pictured on March 13, 2014. (UPI/Kevin Dietsch) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, April 13 (UPI) -- On Sunday, the U.S. Department of State laid out evidence it says shows Russian support for the destabilization of eastern Ukraine.
In its detailed account of Russian military intervention on April 12, the U.S. government charged that "Russia is now using the same tactics that it used in Crimea in order to foment separatism, undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, and exercise control over its neighbors in contravention of Russia's obligations under international law."
The armed pro-Russian militants who seized control of government buildings in Donetsk, Slavyansk, Krasnyi Liman, Kramatorsk, Chervonoarmiysk, and Druzhkovka donned bullet-proof vests and camouflage uniforms without insignia, and carried Russian-origin weapons. Some armed units also wore the black and orange ribbon of St. George, one of the most respected symbols of Russian military valor.
Saturday's unrest, the State Department asserted, was "Inconsistent with political, grassroots protests."
Instead, the simultaneous seizure of government administration buildings in multiple cities across eastern Ukraine on Saturday "bear the same defining features and tactics across diverse locations, including takeover of government administration buildings and security headquarters, seizure of weapons in the targeted buildings, forced removal of local officials, rapid establishment of roadblocks and barricades, attacks against communications towers, and deployment of well-organized forces."
The State Department also cited Ukrainian government reporting obtained from a detainee debriefing during which the individual claimed to have been "recruited by the Russian security services and instructed to carry out subversive operations in eastern and southern Ukraine, including seizing administrative buildings."
In the overtaken cities, journalists have been harassed and prevented from covering the seizures. Pro-Russian media, however, has been granted special access to broadcast the demands of the armed groups. The pro-Russian militants are seeking referendums to join the Russian federation.