The incidents in Slovyansk and the preparations in Kiev come prior to an emotionally charged holiday later in the week, a World War II anniversary, and after a weekend in which street fighting and a fire in a union hall killed over 40 people.
Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said pro-Russian militants ambushed government forces to begin Monday’s round of gunfire.
“A squad in the anti-terrorist operation was hit by an ambush by terrorist groups. They are using heavy weapons,” Avakov said.
One separatist in the city of Semyonovka was reported injured.
Sunday’s attack by pro-Russian separatists on a police station in Odessa, Ukraine, broken up after 67 detained sympathizers, arrested after a Friday street battle, were allowed to go free, was another indication of Ukraine’s inability to control the wave of separatism across the country.
It came after over 40 people died in fighting and a fire Friday, and on the day Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatenyuk visited Odessa to offer condolences for those who died.
Speaking at a news conference, Yatenyuk said that if police had been busy containing the demonstrators instead of collecting bribes at an outdoor market, "these terrorist organizations would have been foiled."
“There were dozens of casualties resulting from a well-prepared and organized action against people, against Ukraine and against Odessa,” Yatenyuk said.
The release of the detained men Sunday came after Odessa police offered no resistance to the mob seeking the separatists’ release. The broke doors and smashed windows in the police station until a compromise was reached -- end the assault and the detainees would go free.
It was another victory for the separatists and a humiliation for law enforcement, as well as raising worry that Ukraine’s army and police will not be able to contain the uprising the government claims is orchestrated in Moscow.