Armed Pro-Russian Separatists Dig Into Donetsk

Image: Ukraine
Volunteers hand out food to separatists who have barricaded a government building on April 10. Protesters plan on using Molotov cocktails seen on the truck in the background to slow down any police raid. Ayman Mohyeldin / NBC News

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Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine, has become one of the latest battlegrounds between armed pro-Russian separatist and Ukrainian officials trying to hold their fledgling country together.

Armed men seized control of the main regional authority building in Donetsk, as well as government buildings in Luhansk, over the weekend.

Ukraine offered an olive branch to the pro-Russian separatists in order to de-escalate tensions: if the armed men surrender and disperse, they will not be prosecuted, the country’s president said Thursday.

But the armed men appear to be digging in, bolstering barricades around the building with barbed wire and sandbags.

Officials are particularly fearful because the seizure of government buildings by separatists in Crimea in February led the way to Russia’s annexation of the peninsula weeks later.