SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (April 16, 2014) Efforts by Ukraine's government to re-establish control over the eastern part of the country appeared to suffer a setback Wednesday as pro-Russian insurgents commandeered six Ukrainian armored vehicles, along with their crews.
The insurgents hoisted Russian flags over the vehicles.
The Ukrainian soldiers manning the vehicles offered no armed resistance.
Members of the pro-Russian militias, wearing masks, then sat on top of the vehicles in combat fatigues as they drove into the eastern city of Slovyansk, which is a hotbed of unrest against Ukraine's interim government.
Insurgents in the city have taken over the police headquarters and the administration building, demanding broader autonomy for eastern Ukraine, and closer ties with Russia.
Those actions have been repeated in at least eight other cities in eastern Ukraine. The central government in Kiev says Moscow is encouraging the unrest.
One of the Ukrainian soldiers said he and the other had defected to the pro-Russian side.
But another soldier was overheard suggesting that they had been forced at gunpoint to hand over the vehicles.