Two Ukrainian provinces voted for independence in a referendum last weekend.
Donetsk and Luhansk are home to 6.5 million people and represent around a third of Ukraine’s industrial output.
Just over 100 percent of people voted in the poll.
The EU and West imposed further sanctions on Russia.
Meanwhile Russian gas company Gazprom informed Ukraine that from 2 June it will only provide supplies paid in advance.
Ukraine depends on Russia for half of its gas. Gazprom suggested Ukraine use the money from its first £1.9 billion of international aid.
However, Russia has proceeded a little slower in incorporating Donetsk and Luhansk than it did with its recent annexation of Crimea.
And there were moves to hold talks being pushed by the German government as Socialist Worker went to press.
Ukraine-wide presidential elections are set for 25 May. Some hope that if the country can hold together until then a new government might provide a compromise.
This is unlikely.
The rising nationalist tensions fuelled by the West and Russia are reducing the space for an alternative in which the interests of ordinary people can come to the fore.