The Ukrainian National Guard proved to be a reliable security force for the country’s government overnight when it successfully stopped pro-Russian separatists from seizing their base in the city of Mariupol.
According to local witnesses, masked men attacked the base with Molotov cocktails before opening fire. Three rebels were reportedly killed in the gun battle that ensued.
Alexander Kalinychenko, National Guard deputy commander, said that the separatists ‘wanted them to leave the base but they had no idea where they wanted them to go’. He explains that they ‘demanded that they hand over their weapons but we didn’t know who they were so we didn’t do it.”
The defeat of the pro-Russian rebel attack, the first by the National Guard since the outbreak of violence in eastern Ukraine, has given those who support the Kyiv government a much needed boost.
‘I hope the events in Mariupol send out a message to pro-Russians and to Russia about what Ukrainians really want,’ said one Mariupol resident.
Reports in local media have said that the estimated 300 pro-Russian rebels who launched the attack in Mariupol were not from the city but instead from other parts of the Donetsk region.
“It’s certainly a reversal of the situation, probably a change of strategy, by the Ukrainian security forces, especially after the hardships of the previous day in Slovyansk,” said Euronews’ reporter in Mariupol Sergio Cantone.