White House confirms CIA director visited Ukraine over weekend

White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukrainian capital Kiev over the weekend and met with high-ranked Ukrainian officials.

Previously, deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich accused Brennan of ordering a crackdown on pro-Russian activists in the east of the country.

The CIA had already dismissed these accusations as “completely false”, but did not disclose whether its chief had actually been to Kiev – until now.

“We don’t normally comment on the CIA director’s travel but given the extraordinary circumstances in this case and the false claims being leveled by the Russians at the CIA we can confirm that the director was in Kiev as part of a trip to Europe,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. Continue reading

In echo of Crimea, eastern Ukraine declares independence

DONETSK, Ukraine – Pro-Russian activists barricaded inside a government building in eastern Ukraine proclaimed the region independent Monday and called for a referendum on seceding from Ukraine – an ominous echo of the events that led to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The Ukrainian government vowed to quell the unrest, while Russia, which has tens of thousands of troops stationed along their joint border, warned Ukraine of more “difficulties and crises” if its leaders failed to heed Moscow’s demands. Continue reading