Ukraine town falls to Russian takeover

A pro-Russia armed man aims his rifle in front of the seized city council building in Kostyantynivka

A pro-Russia armed man aims his rifle in front of the seized city council building in Kostyantynivka

Armed men storm town hall and police station as town becomes latest to fall to pro-Russian forces as President Barack Obama announces sanctions

(SOURCE)  Heavily armed pro-Russian gunmen on Monday seized another town in east Ukraine, storming the town hall in Kostyantynivka and setting up barricades.

Kostyantynivka has 80,000 inhabitants and is located mid-way between the flashpoint town of Slavyansk and the regional hub city of Donetsk, both of which are also under the control of insurgents.

Speaking on a tour of Asia, President Barack Obama said the US and European Union would impose new sanctions later today that would target Russian companies and individuals close to President Vladimir Putin over the escalating crisis in Ukraine.

Pro-Russian men build a barricade in front of the seized city council building in Kostyantynivka (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

Mr Obama says the sanctions are in response to Russia’s failure to uphold an international accord aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine. But he acknowledged that it’s possible the sanctions won’t change Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calculus.

The specific targets are expected to be announced by officials in Washington. The list will also include firms with high-technology businesses close to the Russian defence industry.

A Ukrainian interior ministry spokesman said the pro-Russian separatists had taken the local police headquarters in Kostyantynivka first thing Monday.

“At 6:00am about 30 separatists came to the local police headquarters and occupied the ground floor. Negotiations are underway with the local police chief. We do not know what their demands are,” said Laryssa Volkova, interior ministry spokeswoman.

Eyewitnesses said some 20 militants armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and wearing uniforms with no insignias took control of the town hall and hoisted the flag of the “Donetsk Republic”.

The gunmen also set up a perimeter around the adjoining police station.

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