DONETSK, Ukraine —
Despite claims by the separatists groups to represent all of Donetsk, a region of more than 4 million people, rallies outside the regional building since the weekend have drawn crowds only in the low thousands.
The seizures of the buildings and calls for local votes on secession were an echo of the events that led to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula last month. After Yanukovych fled to Russia, Russian troops took control over Crimea and the region voted to join Russia in a hastily called referendum.
The West has not recognized the vote or the annexation and has retaliated with sanctions against Russia.
Even as the United States warned Russia of more sanctions if Moscow makes further efforts to destabilize Ukraine, the White House announced a high-level meeting among U.S., EU, Ukrainian and Russian diplomats in the coming days to try to solve the crisis.
In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that the date and format of the four-way talks haven't yet been agreed. He suggested that Ukraine's presidential candidates could be invited to join the negotiations.
The Kremlin has pushed for a constitutional reform in Ukraine that would turn the country into a federation with broad powers for its regions and ensure its neutrality. The demands reflected Russia's desire to maintain influence over its neighbor and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.
The new Ukrainian government says Russia has no business telling it what type of government to establish.
Maria Danilova and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Kiev contributed to this report.