Pro-Russian protesters forced police out of a building in an eastern Ukrainian city on Monday, even as a government deadline for demonstrators to leave occupied facilities passed with no immediate consequences in two other cities.
Video from a demonstration in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka showed protesters confronting police and walking through the building, which had small fires burning and broken windows. A severely beaten man in a police uniform was taken to an ambulance as onlookers shouted at him.
The seizure is a new complication for the government in Kiev. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given pro-Russian protesters in other eastern Ukrainian cities until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" by Ukraine's armed forces.
But the deadline passed with no sign that it was heeded in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Slaviansk. There was no movement at the regional government building in Donetsk, which has been occupied for more than a week.
Pifer acknowledged the Ukrainian government faces difficult choices ahead as Russia continues its aggression.
"I think what you're seeing are isolated cases – now in about 8 or 10 towns in eastern Ukraine where there have been armed takeovers of buildings that very much look to be inspired, instigated by Russian special services. And this is going to put the Ukrainian government really at a dilemma. On the one hand, do they act and try to retake some of these building?...Or do they sit back and do nothing and watch these sort of seizures continue?
In Slaviansk, pro-Russian protesters milled around with makeshift shields outside the occupied police station.
Similar deadlines in the past came and went with no consequence.
Horlivka, with a population of about 300,000, became at least the 10th city or town in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine - mainly in the Donetsk region - where activists took over security or government buildings in recent days.
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