Making it readily apparent that no one has any control over the separatists, nor can anyone speak for them, Separatists Seize Another Local Government HQ in Ukraine.

Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists seized the regional government headquarters in Luhansk on Tuesday, unopposed by police, underlining the lack of control of central government over swathes of eastern Ukraine.

Lines of riot police surrounded the back of the building, facing hundreds of men and women. At the front, dozens of men, some in green camouflage and holding shields, walked into the imposing, white building, while others smashed windows and raised the Russian tricolor.

The government in Kiev has all but lost control of its police forces in parts of eastern Ukraine since pro-Russian activists seized buildings in the region’s second biggest city of Donetsk and several smaller towns.

In separatist-held Slaviansk, the self-declared mayor said he would discuss the release of detained military observers only if the European Union dropped sanctions against rebel leaders.

“The regional leadership does not control its police force,” said Stanislav Rechynsky, an aide to Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, referring to events in Luhansk where separatists had earlier only occupied the local security services’ building.

“The local police did nothing.”

He added that the ministry had information that they would next try to take the local television center.

Ukraine’s authorities are struggling to find a way to evict the separatists, who also took a small town hall in Pervomaisk in the Luhansk region on Tuesday.

Separatists in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine’s second biggest city, have said they will hold a referendum on independence for the Donbass region on May 11.

That would undermine government efforts to hold a non-binding consultative referendum across Ukraine on May 25 or June 15, when the country votes for the president, to gauge appetite for the decentralization of power.

Two Points of View

Some claim Russia is orchestrating these events. Russia denies it. Which story is true? If Russia is not leading these efforts, then how is sanctioning Russia supposed to help?

Regardless, more sanctions are the call of the day.

EU Expands Sanction List by 15

The Financial Times reports Russia’s Military Chief and Deputy PM Added to EU Sanctions List

Russia’s military chief and deputy prime minister are among 15 names the EU has added to the list of individuals it is imposing sanctions on, in a move that sparked sharp criticism from Moscow.

Russia’s foreign ministry said that the EU sanctions were “shameful” and claimed they would inflame the Ukraine crisis.

“If that is really how someone in Brussels hopes to stabilise the situation in Ukraine, it is clear evidence of a complete misunderstanding of the internal political situation in the country and a direct invitation to local neo-Nazis to continue producing lawlessness and extrajudicial retaliations against the peaceful population of the southeast,” the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Questions of the Day

Whether or not Russia has a hand in orchestrating these events is debatable. What is clear is that outside forces in both Russia and Ukraine are not in control of the situation and do not speak for the separatists.

If Russia isn’t responsible for these takeovers then how can extra pressure on Russia help?

Would a dialogue with the one group never invited to the peace accord make sense? What precisely are their demands? What is it they will settle for? Isn’t it time someone find out?

Mike “Mish” Shedlock