Armed pro-Russian mobs defied a Ukraine government order Monday to turn over all occupied buildings in the region.
Ukrainian officials let the move pass with no consequences, saying they'd rather find a political solution.
But protesters took the opportunity to take over yet another building, this time a Ukrainian police station. They're calling for freedom from the Ukrainian government and closer ties with Russia.
"We demand to have a people's regional head of the internal affairs administration," one protester said. "This is our only demand - for that person to support the people. All the heads of regional administrations have switched to the side of the people and refused to recognize the government in Kiev."
***As the violence keeps escalating, is the United States or European Union likely to send military help? Daniel Kochis, wtih the Heritage Foundation, addressed that question and more on CBN Newswatch, April 14.
The news comes after Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militia exchanged gunfire in the city of Slovyansk in eastern Ukraine on Sunday. It's the first report of open fighting between the two sides.
According to an eyewitness, four gunmen opened fire from a car on Ukrainian troops standing on the side of the road, killing one soldier and injuring at least five others.
Meanwhile, both Ukraine and the United States are blaming Russia for the escalating unrest in eastern Ukraine.
They say Moscow is destabilizing the region as an excuse to send in troops to protect the local Russian-speaking population.
"We know who is behind this. Indeed the only entity in the area capable of these coordinated professional military actions is Russia," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power charged.
Russia denied responsibility, but warned Ukraine against taking any military action on the protesters. Satellite images show almost 40,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is promising tougher economic sanctions against Russia if it tries to take more parts of Ukraine.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin officially annexed Crimea to Russia.