WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Monday warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against moving "overtly or covertly" into eastern Ukraine and said there was strong evidence that pro-Russian demonstrators in the region were being paid.
"We saw groups of pro-Russian demonstrators take over government buildings in the eastern cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. "There is strong evidence suggesting some of these demonstrators were paid and were not local residents.
"If Russia moves into eastern Ukraine either overtly or covertly this would be a very serious escalation. We call on President Putin and his government to cease all efforts to destabilize Ukraine and we caution against further military intervention," Carney said.