State Guard, police hold night drill in Kiev (VIDEO)
Security forces inspected government buildings and trained on APCs during the civil protection drill, which took place overnight in the Ukrainian capital. Military equipment was transported via the shortest routes from one location to another.
Security forces also checked Kiev’s bomb shelters and the presence of drinking water sources, said Kiev’s mayor, Vladimir Bondarenko.
A short statement was published on Kiev City Hall’s website early on Wednesday, warning “residents and guests of the capital” of a special tactical drill to “be held in Kiev on the night of April 30 to May 1.”
The announcement attracted huge attention from both the media and Kiev residents, as it promised “columns of combat vehicles” moving through the city during the exercise.
However, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry hurried to refute the claims by the mayor’s office, stating that the country's armed forces were not planning to hold any military drills in the capital.
“The announcement of a special tactical exercise, which was posted today – April 30 – on the official website of the Kiev city administration has nothing to do with the activities of the Defense Ministry and the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” a statement on the Defense Ministry’s website said.
“The personnel and military vehicles of the city’s garrison remain at the place of their permanent location. Their deployment in the city’s center is not expected,” the statement added.
Later on Wednesday, Kiev's Mayor Vladimir Bondareko appeared on Ukrainian television to clarify the situation.
He stated that only troops from the State Guard and Interior Ministry – not the army – would be taking part in the night drill.
"Today we are working with units...which must protect the population in case of certain events. So, today we’ll try to train the movement of these units. They will arrive in of Pechersk district (a historical neighborhood in central Kiev), where the government institutions are situated, and then return to their bases,” Bondareko said.
The mayor explained that the exercises are vital due to the events taking place in southeastern Ukraine. Protests against the coup-imposed Ukrainian government are on the rise in the region, with anti-Kiev activists seizing administrative buildings and demanding a referendum on federalization.
"We must be ready for everything, and Kiev’s city administration is doing all it can that if, God forbid, something happens, we’ll be able to hide in shelters and get water; so that we knew where to go for medical aid,” he stressed.
Earlier Ukraine’s coup-appointed President Aleksandr Turchinov announced that the army is now in a state of high alert due to the "real threat" of a Russian military invasion.
At the same time he admitted that Kiev cannot control the situation in the east of Ukraine, where anti-government protesters are continuing to take over government buildings.
The clashes on Tuesday night happened between an ultra-nationalist Social-National Assembly, a faction of the Right Sector militant group and members of the Maidan self-defense militia, as the nationalists were holding a torch rally through central Kiev.
Many Ukrainian nationalists are appalled by the Ukrainian government’s failure to crackdown on the eastern Ukrainian protest. Some even call for another change at the top.
Some Ukrainian officials branded the torch rally as a provocation inspired by Russia, although no explanation was given as to how Russia could have any influence on that group.
Ukraine’s central authorities previously tried to use the military against the protesters in the east, but this proved to be inefficient. The morale of the troops is low, and there were cases of some soldiers defecting to the protesters instead of fighting against them.