KHARKIV, Ukraine, April 8 (UPI) -- Unrest in eastern Ukraine escalated as pro-Russian protesters threw Molotov cocktails, set fire to tires, and put up barriers at a Kharkiv government building.
Police managed to clear the regional assembly building of demonstrators, but the protests continue in eastern Ukraine as the government in Kiev has authorized authorities to use "anti-terrorist measures" against protesters. Russia cautioned Ukraine not to use such measures on the separatists, as it would put the country at risk of "civil war."
Ukraine and the U.S. are blaming the renewed unrest on Russia, saying they are purposefully inciting the protests to cause a similar situation to the one in Crimea.
"We are concerned about several escalatory moves in Ukraine over the weekend," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "We see those as a result of increased Russian pressure on Ukraine. As you noted, we saw groups of pro-Russian demonstrators take over government buildings in the cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Luhansk and there is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid and were not local residents."
Western nations and Ukraine fear that after the Russian annexation of Crimea, Russia will try to push further into Ukraine over the eastern border. Moscow denies that Russia has any interest beyond the Crimean region. Russia has so far ignored requests from Donetsk to send military aid, raising the question of whether the demonstrators have enough support to achieve their goals.
The U.S. has announced they are planning a meeting with Russian, Ukrainian, and EU officials within the next 10 days in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution to the political crisis.