Some Ukrainians call for volunteer army
KIEV — Ukraine's interim government took additional steps on Tuesday to reassert its control by appointing a new military commander and shoring up security forces, even as some leaders made urgent calls for volunteers to take up arms against pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.
Amid reports of fresh violence, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged the creation of a “volunteer army” because neither Ukraine's army nor its security services have been effective in handling outbreaks of rebellion, the Russian news service Interfax reported Tuesday.
Hers was one of many calls to form combat-ready units of “self-defense” forces ahead of May 25 presidential and mayoral elections. Andriy Tiron, battalion commander of the National Guard, told reporters in Kiev that demonstrators who helped oust the previous pro-Russian government were being urged to volunteer for military duty. But there was confusion about who would command them and what their duties would be.
In a brief statement that appeared on his official Web site, the acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said Lt. Gen. Anatoly Pushnyakov has been appointed to take command of the army.
In Washington, the Obama administration denounced as illegal a planned weekend referendum by pro-Russian insurgents pushing for autonomy and independence for portions of eastern Ukraine.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the referendum set for Sunday would be “bogus” and not recognized by the West.