As Russian troops continued to conduct exercises near the Ukrainian border and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, demanded the Russian government do more to defuse the situation or risk further economic sanctions, a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted as saying that Russia had "lost its influence" over separatists in the region.
Speaking in Moscow yesterday, Mr Peskov said: "People are calling in despair, asking for help. The overwhelming majority demand Russian help. All these calls are reported to [President] Vladimir Putin."
He made clear that the Russian government blamed the West for the worsening situation, while stressing the need for "dialogue" towards a peaceful resolution.
"Kiev and its Western sponsors are practically provoking the bloodshed and bear direct responsibility for it. Those who recognise this junta as a legal power become an accomplice to this crime."