A deadline for pro-Russian militants to hand over their weapons and leave buildings they have occupied in eastern Ukraine has passed without signs of rebels complying.
As the 9am deadline issued by authorities in Kiev expired on Monday, Reuters news agency reported that there was no outward sign the rebels were complying with the ultimatum in the city of Slovyansk.
Armed men have raised a Russian flag at a police and security headquarters that they seized on Saturday morning, in the latest takeover of a public buildings by Pro-Russian protesters in eastern Ukraine.
Gunmen occupied a police station and a security services building in the town of Sloviansk. Official buildings in Druzhkovka were reportedly taken over.
At least 20 men armed with pistols and rifles took over the police and security services headquarters in the city, about 150km from the border with Russia.
Officials said the men had seized hundreds of pistols from arsenals in the buildings. The gunmen replaced the Ukrainian flag on one of the buildings with the red, white and blue Russian flag.
The conflict between pro-Russian gunmen and Ukraine’s authorities turned bloody on Sunday, with one security service officer killed and reports of people wounded on both sides, as the struggle for the country’s east escalated one week after separatists began systematically occupying government buildings.
The new administration in Kiev is struggling for credibility in the east of the country and several towns and cities were effectively taken over by pro-Russian groups over the weekend.
Sloviansk, in the Donetsk region, is completely surrounded by rebel barricades and checkpoints manned by pro-Russian militia are stationed on major roads leading into the city.
Although Kiev has promised to take back control of Sloviansk, an all-out assault carries huge risks and could trigger a reaction from Russia, which has tens of thousands of troops camped near its border with Ukraine.
Russia came under heavy criticism during an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council Sunday night.
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power accused the Russians of "writing and choreographing" the violence in Ukraine.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant says satellite images show as many as 40,000 heavily armed Russian troops massed near the Ukrainian border.
Russia insists it has the right to protect Russian speakers it says are under threat in Ukraine. Russia accuses the interim Ukrainian government of being anti-Russian and anti-Semitic extremists.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the West has the power and the influence to push the Ukrainians towards dialogue and away from force.
Ukraine\’s Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said Russia\’s comments do not correspond with reality. He called on the Russians to immediately stop violating Ukrainian sovereignty.
Ukrainian special forces and pro-Russian militia exchanged gunfire in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk Sunday, with both sides reporting casualties. Pro-Russian gunmen had taken over the Slovyansk police station and government facilities in the cities of Donetsk and Kramatorsk.
Top diplomats from Russia, the United States, Ukraine and the European Union are set to hold emergency talks on the crisis April 17 in Geneva. White House officials say U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Kyiv April 22.
Language is a highly sensitive issue in eastern Ukraine, where ties with Russia are strong.
A similar move prompted a Russian takeover of Ukraine\’s Crimea region earlier this year.
The US and EU have imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean people they say were connected with the takeover.
Russia has denied responsibility for the protests in eastern Ukraine, but Western nations have expressed concern over a build-up of Russian troops along the border.