Russian President Vladimir Putin is using tactics from "the Soviet past," according to President Obama's spokesman, who also maintained that the Cold War is not an accurate analogy for current tensions in Ukraine.

"It's not often that you suddenly have, in a variety of cities, all at the same time, a bunch of men wearing military gear, without insignias, including bulletproof vests, suddenly sprout up organically," said White House press secretary Jay Carney while emphasizing that the protests in eastern Ukraine are astroturfed by the Russians.

"It's kind of a heavy-handed approach, but an approach that Russia has familiarity with, having taken it in the past, including in the Soviet past, but it's not fooling anybody," he added.

Carney also noted that "the Ukrainian government has arrested a number of Russian intelligence agents in Ukraine, many of them armed."

He reiterated the Obama team's distaste for Cold War analogies, despite his own throwback to the Soviet era, while taking a dig at Russia's diminished military power.

"We're not in a Cold War because I think it's important to remember what the dynamics of the Cold War were. You had two superpowers, you had two economic blocs, you had two military blocs," Carney said. "There aren't two of any of those things today."