SLAVIANSK, April 16 (RIA Novosti) – Six armored transport vehicles sent to the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk are currenty controlled by pro-federalist activists, he Ukrainian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry confirmed that six armored transport vehicles sent to the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region are currently in the city of Slaviansk under the control of local protesters.
“As of 4:00 pm Moscow time the carriers are now near one of the government buildings in central Slaviansk. The location of Ukrainian military forces is currently being determined,” the statement by the Ministry says.
"We found them at a square near the railway station. A group of women surrounded them, we started telling them we were peaceful residents who are just fighting for their rights and that there are no terrorists here," the witness told RIA Novosti earlier on Wednesday, adding: "They won’t shoot us."
"The main armored transport vehicle had a Russian flag on it and they left together with our [protesters] towards Slaviansk," the witness said.
The number of personnel from the transport vehicles was not specified.
The Ukrainian army started a special operation Tuesday in a crackdown on self-defense activists in eastern Ukraine. The operation targeted the cities of Kramatorsk and Slaviansk in the Donetsk region.
According to unconfirmed reports at least four protesters were killed and two others wounded Tuesday as Ukrainian troops stormed an airfield in Kramatorsk, local pro-federalization supporters said.
Eastern Ukraine has been swept by rallies beginning last month. Federalization supporters in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government and are urging interim authorities to hold referendums similar to the one held in Crimea last month, which led to the republic's reunification with Russia.
Russia condemned the decision by the new Ukrainian authorities to use force against the federalization supporters, saying it was an extremely unpleasant turn of events.