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‘They don't want war’: Activists block Ukrainian military from reaching Russian border

Published time: March 18, 2014 05:00
Edited time: March 18, 2014 10:19
Tanks drive during a military drill conducted by Ukrainian servicemen near the city of Mykolaiv, also known as Nikolayev, in southern Ukraine, northwest of the Crimean peninsula March 14, 2014 (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Tanks drive during a military drill conducted by Ukrainian servicemen near the city of Mykolaiv, also known as Nikolayev, in southern Ukraine, northwest of the Crimean peninsula March 14, 2014 (Reuters / Valentyn Ogirenko)

Dozens of volunteers from the Donbas Region in eastern Ukraine have been setting up checkpoints to prevent Ukrainian military personnel from reaching the Russian border, one of the organizers of the movement told RT.

The unarmed activists are being coordinated by a local group called People’s Militia of Donbas and there are currently over 20 posts that have been set up on various roads in the region, the group’s Deputy Director Sergey Tsyplakov told RT.

The purpose of the posts is to prevent the Ukrainian military equipment from reaching the eastern border with Russia, averting further escalation of the conflict.

There are 10 to 30 people at each post and they continuously switch with one another,” Tsyplakov said.

The majority of the checkpoints have been set up alongside the police posts and “the road police is helping out.” But, in more isolated spots there are more volunteers taking initiative. “People are helping around with tents and firewood,” Tsyplakov added.

People call in to donate or they bring supplies themselves to various posts, while the People’s Militia of Donbas just provides logistical support.

“People are volunteering to help out with delivering food and supplies to keep the posts going … We coordinate and send people out to different posts,” Tsyplakov stated.

The first one out there were just the general public who saw military equipment coming, so they blocked rivers used to transport military equipment … They blocked railways used to bring in military supplies as well,” he said.

Tsyplakov said that volunteers at the posts want to avoid escalation of violence and are trying to avoid bloodshed. “These are peaceful citizens … They don't want war,” he told RT.

He added that military equipment was seen moving towards the eastern border with Russia and the dispersal of military supplies. “Artillery, tanks, anti-missile defense systems were all spotted being transported from Kiev.”

Earlier on Sunday there were reports of Ukrainian heavy military equipment, including armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles heading towards the Russian border.

Residents have uploaded various videos of the heavy military equipment moving through eastern Ukrainian regions.

Last week activists from Lugansk and Donetsk Regions blocked the columns carrying the military equipment. Near Donetsk, the People’s Militia of Donbas forced the Ukrainian troops to turn around, while in Lugansk the activists stopped the columns, setting up a 24-hour patrol guarding the military equipment and preventing its further movement.

Meanwhile Kiev-appointed head of Ukraine’s Donetsk regional administration Sergey Taruta and his brother used their own finances to dig a trench along the border with Russia to reportedly prevent a possible Russian military assault.