SLOVYANSK , Ukraine, April 16 (UPI) -- A pro-Russian militia of about 100 men commandeered military vehicles believed to be of the Ukrainian army, and drove them to the town square of Slovyansk, Ukraine, Wednesday.
Regardless of whether the vehicles were taken from the army or willingly surrendered by Ukrainian troops, the incident marked an escalation of tensions by Russian-supported militants.
The men, some carrying grenade launchers, wore military uniforms with no insignia, and one of their six armored personnel carriers carried the Russian flag. They parked their convoy in the town square of the city about 120 miles from the border with Russia.
The Ukrainian news website Tsenzor.net reported the vehicles were seized in Kramatorsk, a neighboring town.
“People say these are the people’s militia,” said an unidentified witness who watched the display in Slovyansk. “I don’t know these people. They are not locals.”
Another witness began a “Russia! Russia!” chant, but the crowd did not join her.
Elsewhere in Ukraine, roadblocks were installed in the city of Odessa by local police to prevent Russian militants from entering the city.
[New York Times]