Ukraine 'on the brink of civil war' as military vehicles are seized by pro-Russian forces

Ukrainian troops have been sent into reclaim buildings seized in "anti-terror operation"

Ukrainian troops have been blocked and military vehicles have been seized by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern town of Kramatorsk, a day into the interim president's "anti-terrorist" operation.

Ukraine's defence ministry said six armoured personnel carriers had been taken by pro-Russian militants. Separatists flew the Russian flags on the vehicles just hours after President Vladimir Putin warned the country has been pushed “onto the verge of civil war”.

In the industrial city of Donetsk, at least 20 armed separatists occupied the city council building, a spokeswoman for the council said.

Earlier this morning, government troops drove seven armoured personnel carriers flying the Ukrainian flag into the centre of Kramatorsk after seizing back control of a nearby airfield from the rebels on Tuesday.

The airfield was reclaimed by Ukrainian troops using helicopter gunships after the acting president launched an "anti-terrorist" operation, prompting Putin to phone the German chancellor Angela Merkel late yesterday evening and warn of the risk of "civil war".

During the conversation between Putin and Merkel, "the Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war," a Kremlin statement said.

Arseny Yatseniuk , Ukraine's interim prime minister, today accused Russia of "exporting terrorism" to Ukraine by using covert forces to organise armed separatists who he said had attacked Ukrainian forces and occupied state buildings.

Read more: Nato announces it will increase its military presence in response to crisis

"The Russian government must immediately call off its intelligence-diversionary groups, condemn the terrorists and demand that they free the buildings," Mr Yatseniuk told a government meeting.

"That is, if the Russian Federation is interested in stabilising the situation, which I have significant doubts about," he added.

Meanwhile, six armoured vehicles rolled into the nearby city of Slovyansk near the Russian border today carrying the Russian national flag.

Merkel's office said she and Putin had "different assessments of events" in Ukraine during their telephone conversation late Tuesday.

It said the conversation focused on preparations for a planned meeting of senior diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the European Union in Geneva on Thursday.

READ MORE:  HOW SPONTANEOUS ARE THE PRO-RUSSIAN PROTESTS? 
BOTH SIDES IN THE CONFLICT LAY CLAIM TO THE TRUTH

Additional reporting by agencies

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Recruitment Genius: Product Quality Assurance Technologist - Hardline & Electric

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The role in this successful eco...

Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower