A group of men armed with sticks and metal bars faced no resistance when they stormed the headquarters of the Luhansk regional government Tuesday. They pulled down the Ukrainian flag and replaced it with a Russian one. There was a standoff with security personnel in riot gear but no violence. "The regional leadership does not control its police force," Stanislav Rechynsky, said an aide to the interior minister in Kiev, "The local police did nothing." Luhansk is the second E. Ukrainian region seized by separatists after Donetsk and the closest to the Russian border.
Pro-Russian separatist leaders in Crimea and in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Luhansk and Donetsk were on the list of 15 names blacklisted Tuesday by the EU, as well as Gen Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, and Lt Gen Igor Sergun, the head of the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU. On Monday, the US announced sanctions against seven individuals and 17 companies it said were linked to President Putin's "inner circle".