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Military conscription introduced in Ukraine as petrol bombers take over more buildings

Ukraine currently has 130,000 personnel in its armed forces. With reserves, this could be boosted to around 1,000,000.

A demonstration during International Worker's Day in Donestsk.
A demonstration during International Worker's Day in Donestsk.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

UKRAINE IS BRINGING back military conscription with immediate effect to deal with a spreading pro-Moscow insurgency in its east, according to a decree today by interim president Oleksandr Turchynov.

The measure was being taken “given the deteriorating situation in the east and the south … the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings … which threaten territorial integrity,” Turchynov’s office said in a statement.

Ukraine’s parliament voted on 17 April to “recommend to the acting president to restart conscription into the Ukraine armed forces without delay” in order to “bolster Ukraine’s defence capabilities in connection with aggression from the Russian Federation”.

Ukraine scrapped compulsory military service for young men only this year, under a law introduced in 2013 by Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-friendly president who ended up fleeing mass pro-Western demonstrations two months ago.

Ukraine currently has 130,000 personnel in its armed forces. With reserves, this could be boosted to around 1,000,000.

The move on conscription comes as the insurgency dividing Ukraine worsened when militants hurling petrol bombs seized a key building in the eastern city of Donetsk as mass pro-Russia rallies were held there and in annexed Crimea.

Kiev’s Western-backed government has already admitted its security forces are “helpless” to halt the rebellion it blames on Moscow from spreading across more than a dozen eastern towns and cities.

Ukraine Injured Pro-Russian activist speaks with an armed protester. Source: AP/Press Association Images

It has ordered out a Russian diplomat arrested for espionage, risking a tit-for-tat response from Russia.

As fears mounted of the ex-Soviet republic disintegrating, Germany stepped up its appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to help free seven OSCE inspectors held in the town of Slavyansk by the rebels — four Germans, a Pole, a Dane and a Czech.

In Donetsk, a mob of around 300 pro-Russian militants throwing Molotov cocktails and bricks stormed the prosecutor’s office, beating up outnumbered riot police and stealing their arms and shields while yelling “fascists!”

Once inside, they smashed doors and carried off official photos and Ukrainian national symbols to be burned. The insurgents already held the regional administration building and the city hall in Donetsk.

The assault occurred while 10,000 people in the city marched in opposition to the Kiev government and in favour of closer ties to Russia.

© – AFP 2014

Read: Ukraine: Pro-Russia gunmen seize town hall >

Read: Pro-Russian rebels present peace-keeping ‘prisoners of war’ to international media >

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