UK

Donetsk's Barbed Wire And Tyres Divide Eastern Ukraine As Pro-Russia Activists Demand Secession

10/04/2014 18:13 BST | Updated 10/04/2014 18:59 BST

Built from a mountain of black tyres and razor wire, newly built barricades form a gash across a Ukrainian city, a new border you need a secret password to get across.

The striking images of these looming barricades are in Donetsk, a city in the far south-eastern reaches of the country, close to the Russian border. These hooded Donetsk activists want separatism, for eastern Ukraine to become part of Russia. They hope for a referendum, like Crimea, now annexed by Russia.

This week, the city was declared an independent state by the pro-Russia activists currently building the barricades of barbed wire and debris.

Just two years ago, the city hosted two England games for Euro 2012 in Ukraine and Poland. Now it is the frontline of a potential warzone.

Around 1,500 people are currently guarding the walls of the Regional State Administration, according to the Reuters news agency, but anyone can enter if they give a password. Ukrainian police can no longer reach the building or prevent more people from occupying it.

Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has warned the Ukrainian government it must not use force against the Donetsk protesters, and so far the Ukrainian army has not done so, observing the construction from afar.

Both Ukraine and the US have accused Moscow of stirring up unease in the city, to provide an excuse for the Russian army to enter eastern Ukraine, which has a sizeable ethnic Russian population.