WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is warning Russia against intervening in eastern Ukraine and threatening further sanctions.
White House spokesman Jay Carney says there's strong evidence that some pro-Russian protesters who have taken over government buildings in eastern Ukraine were paid, and not local residents. He says escalation in Ukraine is the result of increased Russian pressure.
Carney says if Russia moves into eastern Ukraine either overtly or covertly, it would be a very serious escalation.
He's calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to cease efforts to destabilize the area. He says Russia must pull back its troops from the border.
Pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk have also proclaimed the region independent. The chain of events has raised concerns about a repeat of Russia's annexation of Crimea.