Monday morning, the deadline set by the Ukrainian government for pro-Russian militants to vacate the government buildings they've occupied in eastern Ukraine came and went -- neither side has moved. Ukrainian commandos had exchanged fire over roadblocks near Slovyansk, where the pro-Russian forces have seized a police station, suffering the first casualties of this latest standoff after protests ousted the government of Viktor Yanukovych in February. One officer was killed and five more were wounded. In the increasingly tense standoff, with Russian troops looming over the border and Moscow warning the new Ukrainian government against the use of force, the hours that tick by underscore the bind Kiev's leaders have found themselves in: Can it enforce order without provoking Russia?
In Luhansk, where a mob of protesters seized the former state security services (SBU) building on April 6, pro-Russian forces don't show any sign of backing down. "If snipers attack us, Russia will be here in two hours!" boasted one protester. The militants who held the building professed the same determination: "We have the means to fight Kiev and we will if we have to," said Oleksiy Karakin, the head of the security branch of the newly formed "People's Council of Luhansk," during a press conference from the occupied building.
Hours after the deadline passed on Monday, another police station fell to a pro-Russian mob, this time in Horlivka, just north of Donetsk. The protesters have demanded a referendum to join Russia, and interim President Olexander Turchynov has signaled that he might allow it. In the meantime, people wait and wonder what tomorrow will bring.
Above, pro-Russian activists escort a man (unseen) who they claim is a provocateur, outside the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk on April 13.
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