“In connection with the increase in Russian servicemen and the activity of mercenaries, Ukrainian armed forces are ready for any potential developments in order to ensure the safety of the civilian population,” a statement on Mr. Poroshenko’s website said.
Video released on Wednesday by the Crimea-based news agency Newsfront appeared to show the prosecutor’s office in Luhansk being raided by armed troops seemingly loyal to Igor Kornet, the deposed interior minister. More than 20 members of the prosecutor’s office have been arrested, Russia’s Novaya Gazeta reported.
Most of the armed men were in unmarked uniforms, though some displayed badges of the Berkut riot police. The troops have been occupying parts of Luhansk since Tuesday, when Mr. Kornet made public his refusal to leave his post.
The Interior Ministry in Luhansk had then issued a statement in support of its deposed boss.
“We are deeply disturbed by the actions of a group of people, who have organized a persistent campaign against our leader — Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Kornet,” the statement read. “We cannot calmly and indifferently watch as the reputation of the Lugansk police is openly and without reason being trodden into the dirt.”
Several hours later, Mr. Kornet denied all rumors of his dismissal in a video address. “We have the situation fully under control,” he said.
On Wednesday, the prime minister, Igor Plotnitsky, appeared on television to denounce Mr. Kornet’s insubordination, accusing him of attempting a coup and holding him responsible for a series of power outages across the republic.
“If Kornet has decided to defend himself in some way, then that’s his biggest mistake,” he said. “The law will be upheld.”
On Wednesday evening, Mr. Plotnitsky called for calm and promised that the situation in Luhansk would soon return to normal.
“Igor Kornet was dismissed from his post, but this little man has big ambitions. For some reason, he decided that a court ruling doesn’t apply to him,” a statement on Mr. Plotnitsky’s website said. “This is an attempt to seize power. But no one has managed that and they won’t succeed this time. We will put a stop to this situation very soon.”
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has said it is aware of the presence of military vehicles and armed men on Lugansk’s streets, and that it is monitoring the situation. The Kremlin has also said it is aware of the situation but has so far refrained from additional commenting.
Violence between the Russian-backed breakaway regions and the government in Kiev has prevented the implementation of a peace plan that was negotiated under the umbrella of the European Union with American backing.