Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov called on the U.N. on Monday to send peacekeeping troops to 10 cities in the eastern part of Ukraine that have been occupied by pro-Russian insurgents.
Turchynov asked U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send peacekeepers to coordinate with Ukrainian forces in an “antiterrorist operation,” the Associated Press reports. Peacekeepers can only be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, on which Russia has veto power.
Russian separatists have been occupying government buildings in the eastern part of Ukraine in the past week, despite the government’s ultimatum that they give up their weapons by Monday morning. That deadline came and went without any pause in the violence, as pro-Russian mobs stormed a police station and a military airport. Turchynov said Monday the offensive could still go ahead, though he sacked the security chief in charge of the operation and suggested in parliament that Ukraine might hold a referendum on its future — a move that could give insurgent regions more autonomy.
Western officials and the Kiev government have accused Russia of stoking the insurgency in the east, and even sending Russian troops to aid the protesters. “This instability was written and choreographed in and by Russia,” said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power at a Security Council meeting on Sunday. E.U. ministers were due to meet to discuss further sanctions against Russia this week.
The request for peacekeeping forces comes as the U.S. announced the signing of a $1 billion loan to Ukraine to help the country get back on the path to prosperity. The IMF has already agreed to pay between $14 billion and $18 billion to help prop up Ukraine’s faltering economy; with international assistance from Europe and the U.S., that figure has increased to $27 billion. The country needs as much as $35 billion to pay its bills over the next two years, largely to Russia for gas payments.
A Russian jet made multiple close passes near an American warship Saturday, prompting the U.S.S. Donald Cook to issue several radio warnings and escalating tensions in the region. The ship was deployed to the Black Sea following Russia’s takeover of Crimea.