(NBC News) Trouble in eastern Ukraine has the U.S. considering whether to "get tough" on Russia.
It doesn't mean sending our military into Ukraine. No one is calling for that, but sanctions haven't worked - so it's unclear what the next steps will be.
Pro-Russian demonstrations in at least three parts of eastern Ukraine, and this is what has the U.S. concerned.
In Luhansk, 60 people are being held hostage, with demands for an election -- a vote for independence, just like Crimea.
The U.S. thinks Russia behind it and promises quick action if Russia moves into eastern Ukraine. "It doesn't have to be this way but will if Russia continues down this provocative path," said Secretary of State John Kerry.
Secretary of State John Kerry is suggesting more sanctions against major parts of Russia's economy.
Individual sanctions against President Putin's closest advisers haven't worked so far. "What you're doing, is talking strongly and carrying a very small stick, in fact, a twig," declared Senator John McCain, (R) Arizona.
Today, lawmakers will introduce a bill to help Ukraine fight back: "It's unconscionable that the Ukraine is facing this and the United States is standing on the sidelines and not even actively advising their military," said Rep. Buck McKeon, (R) California.
Advice only - no troops aimed at punishing Russia, but not starting another war.
Next week secretary Kerry meets with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia and the European Union. It's their first four way meeting since the crisis began.
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