The operation began in the “north of Donetsk Region”, he told parliament, and was being conducted “stage by stage, in a responsible… manner”.
Ukrainian armoured vehicles could be seen massing on Monday as separatist militants braced for an attack.
The US and Russian presidents have discussed the crisis by telephone.
Barack Obama urged Vladimir Putin to use his influence to make separatists in Donetsk and other parts of eastern Ukraine stand down.
kraine’s interior minister says government security forces have launched what he called “an anti-terrorist campaign” in the eastern city of Slovyansk where pro-Russian militants have seized control of official buildings.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page Sunday that gunmen had opened fire on the advancing forces, and that there are dead and wounded on both sides. The report of gunfire and casualties has not been independently confirmed.
On Saturday, Ukraine said attacks by pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine are “an act of external aggression” by Russia. Kyiv warned that security officials were preparing to implement “an operational response plan.”
Gunmen have taken over an eastern Ukraine police station, amid escalating protests in favor of the heavily pro-Russian region joining Kremlin rule.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said the armed men seized the station early Saturday in Slavyansk, about 60 kilometers from the regional capital, Donetsk.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian protesters continued to occupy government buildings Saturday in Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine’s acting prime minister has offered concessions to the protesters and regional leaders, after Kyiv’s deadline passed for separatists to vacate the state buildings.
Pro-Russian activists released most of their hostages in Ukraine’s eastern city of Luhansk today after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of using “special forces and agents” to fuel unrest.
Ukrainian security forces continued an “anti-terrorist” operation in the eastern cities of Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said today. Pro-Russian protesters are still occupying buildings in the latter two and want a referendum on joining Russia and a boycott of Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election.
“I think the way to solve this crisis will be found within 48 hours,” Avakov said in a statement on his ministry’s website. “The anti-terrorist alert in all three regions has not been canceled and at any given moment we will be able to carry out planned actions.”
Spain’s Parliament on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a petition by the powerful northeastern Catalonia region to allow an independence referendum, a decision that is likely to increase the divide between both sides.
The request was voted down, 299-47, with one abstention, after nearly seven hours of debate.
Catalonia’s pro-independence sentiment has exploded recently amid objections over how the region is treated by the central government. Many in the region located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula are convinced that independence would benefit them economically.
The leading candidate for Austria’s far-right Freedom Party in European elections next month resigned on Tuesday after coming under fire for racist comments and comparing the EU to the Nazis.
Mr Andreas Moelzer unleashed a storm of controversy after Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily reported him telling an event in February that the EU was in danger of becoming a “conglomerate of niggers, where everything is chaos”.
He announced his resignation on Tuesday, but remained defiant, saying that he had done “nothing dishonourable other than to formulate a non-conformist opinion in a politically incorrect manner.”
In a statement to the Austria Press Agency on Tuesday, he said his decision to resign was not due to the “politically correct” media or the “feigned outrage of the political establishment”.
More (sub. required) : Austrian MEP Resigns After Racist Outburst, Comparing EU to Nazis
The European Union’s highest court ruled on Tuesday that an EU directive requiring telecoms companies to store the communications data of EU citizens for up to two years was invalid.
“The Court of Justice declares the Data Retention Directive to be invalid,” the court said in a statement.
The data-retention directive was introduced in March 2006 after bombings on public transport in Madrid and London. The aim was to give the authorities better tools to investigate and prosecute organized crime and terrorism.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has won another four years in power, election results showed on Monday, while one in five voters backed a far-right opposition party accused of anti-Semitism.
Orban has clashed repeatedly with the European Union and foreign investors over his unorthodox policies, and after Sunday’s win, big businesses were bracing for another term of unpredictable and, for some of them, hostile measures.
But many Hungarians see Orban, a 50-year-old former dissident against Communist rule, as a champion of national interests. They also like the fact that under his government personal income tax and household power bills have fallen.
Pro-Kremlin demonstrators seized administration buildings in Ukraine’s east and called for the regions to join Russia as the government in Kiev accused President Vladimir Putin of stoking separatist unrest.
Russian forces shot a Ukrainian military officer to death in Crimea, according to the Kiev-based Defense Ministry, after protesters with Russian flags stormed administration offices in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk and called for a boycott of Ukraine’s May 25 presidential election. A group temporarily seized offices in Kharkiv before the building was freed. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russia’s government was trying to split up Ukraine.
“The aim of this scenario is to divide Ukraine into parts and to turn part of Ukraine into a territory of slavery under a Russian dictatorship,” Yatsenyuk said today in televised remarks in Kiev. “It’s crystal clear that an anti-Ukrainian plan is under way, a plan to destabilize the situation, a plan so that foreign troops cross the border.”
Pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine have seized state security buildings in the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukrainian officials say.
Reports say that in Luhansk the protesters have raided the arsenal in the security building. Police have reacted by blocking roads into Luhansk.
On Sunday protesters broke into the regional government buildings in the two cities and also Kharkiv.
Ukraine’s acting president has called an emergency security meeting.