In a direct challenge to rule from Kyiv, pro-Russian partisans have seized several armoured vehicles throwing the Ukrainian military operation to retake key eastern towns into chaos. In the Donbass region, several army units were forced to do a u-turn.
Reporting from eastern Ukraine euronews’ Sergio Cantone said: ‘‘Ukraine’s attempted mission to retake this zone has been paralysed, resulting in almost a complete turnaround in the situation.’‘
Earlier on Wednesday, crowds had forced the Ukrainian convoy, some 30 kilometres from the city of Slovyansk to a halt, resulting in a long stand-off until their final withdrawal.
‘‘People are frightened, they afraid for their families and relatives, so they don’t want to let those combat vehicles through, they don’t want those vehicles to take part in a military conflict,’‘ one man said.
Many in this part of Ukraine consider the Donbass region independent from Kyiv. Later the crowd was reinforced by pro-Russian gunmen.
In nearby Slovyansk, where key government buildings have been seized many locals in the city welcomed the militias. But, the situation on the ground still remain tense with reports Ukrainian troops fired shots into the air late on Wednesday after their base came under attack in the eastern town of Mariupol.