Pro-Russian supporters surrounded several Ukrainian armoured vehicles near Ivanovka in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday blocking their path and disarming their occupants.
In a direct challenge to Kyiv, locals literally stopped the military convoy in its tracks.
It came as Ukraine’s defence ministry reported a series of similar incidents near the city of Slovyansk, in the east of the country, a day after the Ukrainian army began an anti-terrorist operation to remove pro-Russian militia from public buildings. That mission to reclaim towns now looks to be seriously jeopardised.
Many in the industrial Donbass region of Ukraine have strong ties to Russia and have declared themselves independent from Kyiv.
The latest military setbacks come on the eve of peace talks in Geneva between Russia and Ukraine with the EU and US, to find a way out of the crisis.