Radicals pilfer hundreds of weapons including machine guns and grenades
The Kyiv Post and other sources inside Ukraine reported earlier today weapons looted from government stocks will soon reach protesters. Authorities in the country admitted arms were stolen from the Security Service headquarters and regional police.
Government offices in Lviv and Ternopil were attacked in western Ukraine on February 18. Protesters raided the Security Service in Ivano-Frankivsk, according to Volodymyr Borodko, a law enforcement deputy with the Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny, or SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service.
The raiders made off with 267 pistols, two rifles, three machine guns, nearly 100 grenades and approximately 15,000 rounds of ammunition, a representative of the Interior Ministry, Serhiy Burlakov, told the newspaper.
The raid and seizure of weapons led to the government declaring an anti-terrorist operation across the country. “In many regions of the country, municipal buildings, offices of the interior ministry, state security and the prosecutor general, army units and arms depots, are being seized,” SBU chief Oleksandr Yakimenko said in a statement posted on the security service website.
“In accordance with the law on fighting terrorism, the Ukrainian Security Service was forced to switch this morning to a higher state of readiness,” Ukrainian Security Service Deputy Head Volodymyr Porodko said during a meeting with foreign ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry.
Ukraine’s acting prime minister told a European Union bureaucrat on the same day the firearms were stolen security forces would not use weapons in response to violence by opposition demonstrators.
“I was just on the phone with the acting prime minister, telling him that seeing the Berkut (riot) police with Kalashnikovs is a source of great concern, and he assured me that he himself and the authorities will do everything for those weapons to stay silent,” the EU bureaucrat, Stefan Fuele, said during a public event in Brussels.
Videos from Kiev posted today show demonstrators dressed in combat fatigues firing various weapons at police. The police appear to be under orders not to respond.
Meanwhile a group at the forefront of the violence, Pravy Sektor, has vowed to continue attacking police and the government until it manages to “crush the internal regime of occupation” and “once and for all solve the main issues of the national revolution,” according to a post on its Facebook page.