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50 killed in Ukraine ahead of planned Minsk peace talks

50 killed in Ukraine ahead of planned Minsk peace talks
At least 50 people were reported killed in the last 24 hours, including 16 in a devastating rocket attack on Kramatorsk, the Ukrainian government’s eastern military headquarters and administrative hub.

In the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, city officials said that 11 people had been killed, including nine in a mortar strike on the city early today. Rebels, who rarely announce military casualties, said they had lost seven fighters.

The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany were to hold peace talks on Wednesday aimed at halting a 10-month war in Ukraine where dozens were killed in the latest fighting. In the run-up to the summit, the climax of a frantic diplomatic push to prevent the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War from escalating, Russia expressed optimism.

“Experts are working, there is noticeable progress,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, although he signalled there would be no flexibility on the crucial negotiating demand from Ukraine that it be given back control of its border with Russia. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned he could “introduce martial law throughout Ukraine” if the talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk failed to stop the war with the pro-Russian separatists. “I will not hesitate with this decision, if the actions of the aggressor lead to further escalation,” he said. 
Agencies

Agencies

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