Nightly News   |  April 19, 2014

Easter Doesn’t Ease Tensions in Ukraine

Pro-Russian forces show no signs of backing down, while the U.S. gives indications it will have a show of force.

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>>> in ukraine , the easter holiday no sign forces in the eastern part of the country will back down. at the same time there is indications the u.s. is planning a show of force of its own in neighboring countries. we get the latest tonight from nbc's chrkristen welker.

>> reporter: despite an international agreement to deescalate the crisis in ukraine , prorussian militants are vowing to continue their occupation of government buildings in eastern ukraine , violating the deal, which was reached in geneva three days ago. in an exclusive interview with david gregory , ukraine 's prime minister warned moscow has bigger plans.

>> president putin has a dream to restore the soviet union , and every day he goes further and further and god knows where is the final destination.

>> reporter: armed prorussian militants have seized buildings in at least ten towns, and say they won't leave unless ukraine 's interim government relinquishes power.

>> reporter: there is a low here due partly to the easter holiday and a three-day truce called today by the kiev government. while, tonight, a top official arrives here to begin monitoring compliance of the geneva deal as prorussian militants say no deal.

>> reporter: meanwhile the pentagon says the united states is considering a range of additional measures to bolster air, maritime and ground readiness in europe. while vladimir putin today attended eastern midnight mass outside moscow, 40,000 russian troops continued their encampment along the boarder including special operations forces , airborne paratroopers and combat forces. foreign policy experts say the best chance of success to end the insurge si to pressure the militants to back down.

>> the key to get the groups to abandon the police stations is vladimir putin . if he calls to do it publicly or privately, it will happen and he's the only person to reign them in.

>> reporter: president putin insists deescalation doesn't depend solely on russia . the united states is considering a plan to send a small number of ground troops to poland. president obama has said the united states will not engage with russia military. lester?

>> kristen, what about the likelihood of more sanctions?

>> reporter: the obama administration says if russia does not compile, it will be ready to inforce stiffer sanctions. so far sanctions are targeted as a new round that could target the various sectors of russia 's economy. those sectors would include banking, mining and energy. the u.s. says they are only giving russia a few days to