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SBU ramping up security operations in Kharkiv Oblast, plans to cordon off separatists in Donetsk; insurgents in Donetsk refuse to surrender occupied buildings (LIVE UPDATES)

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April 18, 2014, 2:26 p.m. | Ukraine — by Kyiv Post

SWITZERLAND, Geneva : TOPSHOTS US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) talks with Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov at the start of a bilateral meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine on April 17, 2014 in Geneva. John Kerry meets Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsya for talks later this morning on the Ukraine crisis, the first time all four sides have sat down for a meeting. AFP PHOTO - POOL / JIM BOURG
© AFP

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Editor's Note: On April 15, Ukraine's military began an anti-terrorist operation against Kremlin-backed insurgents who have taken over numerous government buildings and police headquarters in several cities of Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine's most populous region where 10 percent of the nation's 45 million people live. The Kyiv Post has journalists in Donetsk Oblast and will be updating as events happen.

On April 17, diplomats from the U.S., EU, Ukraine, and Russia announced that that they had reached an agreement that may help de-escalate separatist violence in eastern Ukraine.

SBU ramping up security operations in Kharkiv Oblast, plans to cordon off separatists in Donetsk

2:25 p.m. -- At a press conference held in Kyiv on April 18 the Security Service of Ukraine announced that they are stepping up security operations in Kkarkiv Oblast, especially around the city of Kharkiv, by inspecting more vehicles entering the region for weapons, ammunition and explosives. 

The SBU also said that in Donetsk Oblast security forces were creating a cordon between the civilian population and the separatists.

The Security Service of Ukraine continues to detain people entering the country with large amounts of cash and military equipment. 

On April 17 at the Melitopol railway station security personnel found hidden in a sacks of dirty laundry 245 rounds of ammunition of various calibers and explosive substances. 

In Odesa Oblast the State Border Guard Service seized three boxes of grenades and fuses from a bus at the Slovyanoserbsk border point near Tiraspol, the capital of the Transnistria Republic. -- Evan Ostryzniuk

Insurgents in Donetsk refuse to surrender occupied buildings

12:56 p.m. -- On April 18, the head of the separatist Donetsk People's Republic announced that his men will not lay down their arms or surrender occupied buildings unless the government in Kyiv resigns.  

Denis Pushilin said that his men do not consider the government in Kyiv to be legitimate, and will not respond to its demands.

Pushilin reiterated the Republic's demand that a referendum on federalization be held in Donetsk Oblast by May 11.

On April 17, top diplomats from the U.S., EU, Ukraine, and Russia signed an agreement in Geneva calling for insurgents in eastern Ukraine to leave occupied buildings and lay down their arms. -- Isaac Webb

Obama on Geneva agreements:  "we’re going to prepare additional responses should Russia fail to take a different course"

12:16 p.m. -- After diplomats from the U.S., EU, Russia, and Ukraine announced on April 17 that they had reached an agreement that may help diffuse tensions in eastern Ukraine, President Obama announced that the U.S. would continue to prepare sanctions against Russia, should Vladimir Putin continue to foment separatism in the east.

At a press conference on April 17, Obama said that the U.S. would "prepare additional responses should Russia fail to take a different course.  We’ve already had an impact on their economy that is well documented.  It could get significantly worse." 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and top diplomats from Ukraine, the U.S., and the EU signed a statement issued following the quadrilateral talks, which expressed the need to disarm militants and to pressure pro-Russian insurgents to surrender occupied buildings in eastern Ukraine. 

Obama expressed some doubt that Russia would follow through on its promises to pursue de-escalation: 
We’re not going to know whether, in fact, there’s follow-through on these statements for several days."

He said that "In the meantime, we’re going to make sure that we continue to help the Ukrainian government -- working with the IMF, the Europeans and others -- to stabilize their economy and to start reforming it.  We’re going to continue to work with our NATO allies to make sure that they are assured that we’re going to meet our Article 5 obligations and that they are secure."

Obama acknowledged that Russia still has large numbers of troops positioned on the Ukrainian border "as a gesture of intimidation." -- Isaac Webb

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