There has been an angry reaction from some civilians in Slovyansk to the Ukrainian military operation.
New makeshift barricades were put up on Friday morning to try to prevent Ukrainian forces from entering the city of 120,000 people.
People used bins, tyres and pieces of wood to block streets, fearing that special forces sent from Kyiv would attack them.
One man rejected Ukrainian accusations of Russian involvement in the uprising against Kyiv’s rule.
“We are local residents, there’s no-one outside to defend us. We will defend ourselves, nobody else will,” he said.
“There are no Russian troops here as they (Ukrainians) claim. We are just normal people. These are our houses, our lives, this is our Slovyansk,” said a young woman.
The pro-Russian self-declared mayor of the town, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, has claimed that the extremist Right Sector has been involved in the military operation, and that the assault group was only on the outskirts of town, not in the centre.