Updated: 04/08/2014 5:10 PM
Created: 04/08/2014 4:53 PM KSTP.com
By: Cassie Hart
Authorities in Ukraine are having mixed success in trying to put down pro-Russian uprisings in the eastern part of the country near the Russian border.
In one city, Ukrainian authorities have retaken control of a government building. In another, protesters are consolidating their hold. And in a third city, officials say separatists armed with explosives and other weapons are holding dozens of hostages in the local headquarters of Ukraine's Security Service.
The U.S. says it looks like a "pretext" for Russian military action, comparing it to the situation in Crimea before Russia's annexation.
All of the cities affected by the uprising are in Ukraine's industrial heartland in the east, which has a large population of ethnic Russians. Hostility there is strong toward the government that took power in Ukraine in February.
Secretary of State John Kerry is threatening tougher economic sanctions against Moscow -- which he says is creating a "contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary."
Kerry is planning to take part in a four-way meeting next week that will also include Russia, Ukraine and the European Union.
(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)