A column of armored personnel carriers flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russia demonstrators on Wednesday. Some of the troops aboard said they were Ukrainian soldiers who had switched allegiance.
An Associated Press reporter saw the six vehicles, with troops in camouflage sitting on top, enter the city of Slovyansk, a hotbed of unrest against Ukraine’s acting government. Insurgents in Slovyansk have seized the local police headquarters and administration building, demanding broader autonomy for their eastern Ukraine region and closer ties with Russia.
Eastern Ukraine was the support base for Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in February after months of protests in the capital, Kiev, that were ignited by his decision to back away from closer relations with the European Union and turn toward Russia. Opponents of the government that replaced him alleged the new authorities will repress eastern Ukraine’s large Russian-speaking population. . .