Ukraine’s acting president has announced the start of an “anti-terrorist operation” in the east of the country.
But on the ground witnesses reported no signs that Kyiv forces were ready to storm state buildings occupied by pro-Russian rebels.
In Parliament the interim president Olexsandr Turchynov said the operation would happen in carefully-planned stages, step by step.
“This morning an anti-terrorist operation has started in the east of the Donetsk region,” he said. “The aim of this action – I emphasise it once again – is to protect Ukraine’s citizens, to stop terror, to stop criminality, and stop attempts to tear Ukraine apart.”
Turchynov spoke 24 hours after an ultimatum expired for the separatists to lay down their arms.
Eastern towns were described as quiet on Tuesday morning – with no repetition of Monday’s scenes when rebels took over a police station at Horlivka.
But the situation remains tense. Western governments fear a repeat of events in Crimea, which Russian troops seized in February.