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Wednesday
Apr232014

Ukraine Security Chief: At Least 130 Russian Officers Leading Efforts in Eastern Ukraine

Genya Savilov//AFP/Getty Images(KIEV, Ukraine) -- At least 130 members of the Russian intelligence service and military are leading uprising efforts in Eastern Ukraine, the director of Ukraine's national security service said Tuesday.

In a Google Hangout sponsored by the Atlantic Council, security official Valentyn Nalyvaichenko explained there were as many as 30 special troops or officers of Russia's intelligence service, the GRU, working in the Slaviansk region, plus another 100 in Donetsk.

"They are not alone," he added, saying that they recruited pro-Russian locals.

The information was provided through three GRU officers detained and questioned by Ukraine, and Nalyvaichenko says they have already identified "two main organizers" responsible for unrest in the region. A criminal investigation has been launched.

The security chief also confirmed reports that a military plane in Sloviansk was hit by gunfire. Addressing Ukraine's response to the crisis, he explained Kiev's best option to "calm down the situation" is to obtain more funding from the central government to provide "more support to maintain normal life" for local authorities, according to the Atlantic Council.

Nalyvaichenko also cited reliance on international civilian mediators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to help persuade pro-Russian separatists to stand down.

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