Time correspondent Simon Shuster tells the story of his abduction near Konstantinovka, in Ukraine, recently. He was stopped at a checkpoint where a man "pulled me from the car and cracked me on the head with the butt of his pistol."

About half of his buddies got nervous, even sympathetic, when they saw the blood running down my face, and a few even ran to bring me some tissues. Maybe these were meant to be the peaceful citizens struggling for their rights. For a while, they bickered about what to do with me before calling their commander, a lanky man in camouflage named Vanya, who soon drove up with a long-barrel shotgun and a bandolier of red shells across his chest. “You’re screwed now,” one of his men whispered at me.

But on the ride back to his headquarters in the town of Kramatorsk, inside the occupied city hall, Vanya apologized for the beating. “We’re at war here,” he offered as an explanation. “We’re in a military situation.”