Nightly News   |  April 27, 2014

Pro-Russian Forces in Ukraine Show No Signs of Backing Down

The U.S. and other nations are prepared to issue sanctions against Russia, saying President Vladimir Putin has done nothing ease tensions in Ukraine.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we turn overseas now to the unfolding crisis in ukraine as the u.s. and other western countries prepare to impose new sanctions on russia as early as tomorrow. eight foreign observers being held for three days by pro-russian militants suddenly appeared at a news conference today. our report from nbc's jim maceda in ukraine .

>> reporter: they look like prisoners of war , but these were envoys of peace, eight military observers from the osce abducted on friday and paraded today under armed guard.

>> we have no indication when we will be sent home to our countries and to see our families.

>> reporter: one hostage was freed for medical reasons, but the rest have become the latest weapon in the insurgents' arsenal.

>> translator: the key of junta he said is holding a number of our allies. so if possible, we're ready for an exchange. flexing their muscles, militants in donetsk tried to commandeer the local tv station and force it to broadcast a russian channel. the militants left when engineers convinced them it couldn't be done. both sides, pro-russian and pro- ukraine forces preparing for war. at this border crossing , ukrainian soldiers make sandbags to beef up their defensive positions. this would be a main route to invade from russia just 600 yards away. if russian troops do try to penetrate this border, these ukrainian soldiers tell me they're under orders to fire at the russians, and they say they'll do so proudly. but the military buildup is frightening villagers here like svetlana who says she only wants peace. "i don't want to see a war," she said. my mother saw a war and my grandfather died in one. a world away, president obama ending his visit to malaysia today claims russia hasn't lifted a fingerer to prevent a war in ukraine .

>> in fact, there is strong evidence that they've been encouraging the kinds of activities that have been taking place in eastern southern ukraine .

>> reporter: a standoff that has paralyzed the region and has the world on edge. jim maceda, nbc news, donetsk.