In an inauspicious start to talks between the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in Geneva on Thursday, Ukrainian troops killed three masked pro-Moscow militants during a Wednesday night attack on a Ukrainian National Guard base in Mariupol, a Black Sea port town in eastern Donetsk province, not far from the border with Russia. According to a Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the Guardsmen also wounded 13 of the roughly 300 attackers and captured 63. No Ukrainian troops were reported killed.
"After the attackers threw fire grenades and Molotov cocktails into the territory of the unit and opened fire on soldiers on guard, the National Guard troops opened warning fire and then... as the attack was repeated they began shooting to kill," Avakov wrote. Speaking to parliament on Thursday, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said the pro-Russia gang tried to take the base three times, with some of the attackers carrying automatic weapons.
Earlier Wednesday in Kramatorsk, about 100 miles due north of Mariupol, a unit of Ukrainian paratroopers surrendered several armored vehicles after being surrounded by unarmed protesters, then armed pro-Russia militants. "After the shocking setbacks in Kramatorsk," Dmitry Tymchuk, head of the Kiev-based Center for Military and Political Research, tells the Los Angeles Times, "the actions of our soldiers in Mariupol demonstrate that the anti-terrorist operation in the Donetsk region is still continuing and may yet gain momentum."