WASHINGTON (AP) -- The United States sees Russia's hand in the latest unrest in eastern Ukraine.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, tells ABC's "This Week" that the violence carries "the tell-tale signs of Moscow's involvement." She says, "It's professional, it's coordinated. There's nothing grassroots seeming about it."
Power says the U.S. could impose tougher penalties against Moscow if Russia continues its aggression.
Ukrainian officials say a Security Service officer was killed today in an exchange of gunfire with a pro-Russian militia in the eastern city of Slovyansk, where the police station and the Security Service office were seized yesterday by armed men. Unrest has spread to several cities in eastern Ukraine, including the major industrial city of Donetsk.
Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. According to the State Department, Kerry expressed "strong concern" that the attacks in eastern Ukraine were "orchestrated and synchronized, similar to previous attacks in eastern Ukraine and Crimea." The department says Kerry made it clear that if Russia doesn't "take steps to de-escalate" and move its troops back from Ukraine's border, "there would be additional consequences."
Russia's Foreign Minstry is denying Kerry's claims. It says the crisis in Ukraine was caused by the failure of Ukraine's government to consider "the legitimate needs and interests" of the country's Russian-speaking population.