Much like the buildup to the annexation of Crimea, the armed men currently driving separatism in east Ukraine are conspicuously masked.
Reuters describes them as “armed men, believed to be pro-Russian protesters,” although the men that seized government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities on Sunday did more than protest.
In Donetsk, they are now calling for the establishment of the “Donetsk people’s republic” via referendum by May 11.
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov said that the action in three cities of eastern Ukraine – Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk – indicates the “second stage” of special operations by Russia aimed at breaking up Ukraine.
He added that the Kremlin is “playing out the Crimean scenario.” Both situations involve pro-Russian gunman, many of them masked, who appear to be professionally trained and fully prepared for the takeovers.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia — which has tens of thousands of troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border — is prepared to intervene to protect Russian speakers from Ukrainian nationalists.
However, the reality is that Putin has once again sent Russian forces, masked as separatists, to deftly commandeer various state buildings in the Russia-speaking east of the country.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.