NATO's top military commander, General Philip Breedlove, said he does not think Russia will invade Ukraine, adding that the Kremlin has other ways to achieve its goals.
Breedlove told an audience in Ottawa, Canada Monday that he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin will keep doing what he is doing -- creating unrest, discrediting the Ukrainian government and stirring up a separatist movement. He predicted Moscow will keep a hold on eastern Ukraine without sending regular troops across the border.
The NATO commander said he is certain Russian special forces are in Ukraine. But he said it is not known if they were the ones who shot down three Ukrainian helicopters with missiles last week.
With violence on the rise in Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon tells the French News Agency he will offer himself as a mediator before the situation creates huge consequences beyond anybody's control.
Ukrainian forces fought gun battles Monday with pro-Russian militia in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk. At least 20 pro-Russians were reported killed.
Ukraine has launched what it says is an anti-terrorist operation against the separatists. Russia's Foreign Ministry is calling on Ukraine to withdraw its troops from the east and open talks on ways to resolve the political crisis.
Pro-Russian separatists control about a dozen eastern Ukrainian towns and cities, demanding the right to vote on whether to split with Ukraine and join Russia. A similar referendum in Crimea in March led to the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula and the current crisis.
Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses Russia of seeking to destroy Ukraine by engineering what he says is a "well-planned provocation" against the government.
Russia says the new Ukrainian government is controlled by anti-Russian nationalists and neo-Nazis. It says it has the right to protect Russian speakers.