Pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine have reportedly taken over a Christian university in the major city of Donetsk and are using the university to house insurgents in preparation for battle.
"They want to accommodate more soldiers, so that place becomes the number one target for the insurgency," said Sergey Rakhuba, president of Peter Deyneka Russian Ministries and a former board member of the university. "If the Ukrainian army attacks, this Christian university would be destroyed."
Separatists attempting to gain control of the city are using Donetsk Christian University and Gloria Christian School for accommodations, Rakhuba told Mission Network News. Insurgents have also overtaken several other public buildings in the city. Around 20 staff members and their families were initially trapped inside the buildings but were then allowed to leave, Rakhuba said.
Rakhuba says he is concerned for the safety of campus buildings and people in the area during the predicted counterattack by the Ukrainian army.
"This place could be turned into hell," he said. "People are panicking."
Donetsk, whose 2012 population was just shy of 1 million, is not the only Ukrainian city facing a crisis situation. Rakhuba also reports that pro-Russian insurgents have set up strongholds in the cities of Kramatorsk and Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine, cutting off electricity and water supplies and leaving refugee support teams slammed with food delivery and response.
"The scope of the trauma and tragedy in Slavyansk and Kramatorsk is beyond comprehension," reports Rakhuba in a press release. "For the last several weeks, local residents have had no electricity and little food and fresh water."
Rebels since continued into the Donetsk region, retreating from Kramatorsk and Slavyansk as Ukrainian troops regained control.
Meanwhile, families are fleeing Donetsk in the wake of the Ukrainian government's announcement that it plans to reclaim the city, according to the BBC. Civilians and soldiers in the eastern Ukrainian industrial city are calm for now, but a battle is likely on the horizon, reportsThe Telegraph. The Guardian reports that Russian-speaking separatists declared the city a "People's Republic" in late April.
Since pro-Russian militants seized control of the city, at least 423 people have died, and approximately 30,000 people have fled. The separatist conflict in Donetsk has become one of the worst in the former Soviet Union since 1991.
CT has covered the recent conflict in Ukraine, including how the country's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, is a former Baptist pastor, and how Russia blocked Americans from adopting children from Crimea. CT featured the clergy who took a literal stand in Ukraine's protests, and how they held an all-night prayer vigil, hoping to prevent Russia's invasion. CT also offered a 160-year Christian history behind the Ukrainian conflict and the Crimean Peninsula.