(Kiev Loyal Forces Fire Guns During Vote As Man Screams “They Are Americans!”)

In turbulent elections that occurred over the weekend parts of East Ukraine voted for independence from Kiev. The controversial vote is widely seen as a first step by those territories to joining the Russian Federation.

During the election armed forces loyal to Kiev attempted to stop the vote, in some cases firing on civilians. Kiev has claimed the election is a farce while Russia has been coy as to what it will actually do in response to the vote other than calling for “dialogue.”

Pro-Russian groups said large majorities voted in favor of secession in referendums they organized in eastern Ukraine that were dismissed as illegitimate by the government in Kiev and its U.S. and European allies.

In Donetsk, 90 percent of voters backed the breakaway plan, RIA Novosti reported late yesterday, citing Roman Liagin, head of the local election committee. In Luhansk, the other region voting, 94 percent to 98 percent supported autonomy with turnout at 75 percent, RIA said. Final results are due later today.

Also breaking during the weekend was a story by Der Spiegel and Bild that American mercenaries were on the ground in Kiev. According to the report 400 mercenaries from Academi (formerly Blackwater) were on the ground “involved in a punitive operation mounted by Ukraine’s new government.”

Der Spiegel claims “the information originates from U.S. intelligence services and was presented during a meeting chaired by the Chancellor’s Office chief Peter Altmaier (CDU). At the meeting were present the president of the intelligence agencies and the Federal Criminal Office, as well as the intelligence coordinator of the Chancellor’s Office and senior Ministry officials.”

Now that parts of East Ukraine have formally voted for independence from Kiev the prospect for any peace deal that involves Kiev ruling East Ukraine appears increasingly unlikely. Are we one step closer to all out civil war?