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Putin vows to protect ethnic Russians abroad after Ukraine truce expires

From – Putin vows to protect ethnic Russians abroad after Ukraine truce expires

MOSCOW, July 1 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday, after Kiev renewed military operations against pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine, that Moscow would continue to defend the interests of ethnic Russians abroad.

He also said in a speech to Russian ambassadors that “everyone in Europe” must work to ensure that the scenarios that have unfolded in Syria, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine – all of which have faced armed uprisings – do not “become contagious”.

Russian Foreign Ministry says Kyiv must renew ceasefire, end military operation

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MOSCOW — Russia urged Kiev on Tuesday to end a military operation and revive a ceasefire in the east of Ukraine where the government is fighting a pro-Russian separatist rebellion.

“We demand that the Ukrainian authorities refrain from shelling civilian cities and villages in their own country, return to a real, not a fake, ceasefire to safeguard the lives of the people,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Ukraine’s army launched air strikes and artillery assaults on the rebels on Tuesday, a military spokesman said, after President Petro Poroshenko said he would not renew the ceasefire that run out late on Monday.

Ukraine shells hit Russia territory: Moscow

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Moscow says Ukrainian troops have fired three shells into the Russian territory, causing damage but no casualties.

“In the course of clashes on the Ukrainian territory, the Ukrainian military fired shells which ended up on the Russian territory,” said spokesman for the border service in the Rostov region, Vasily Malayev, on Saturday.

“One seriously damaged the building of a customs post” near the border town of Gukovo, while two shells landed in or around nearby villages, the official added.
The statements come as the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has extended the ceasefire with pro-Russia protesters in the eastern provinces for another 72 hours until June 30.

On June 20, Poroshenko announced a weeklong ceasefire plan aimed at curbing the violence in the restive east. The plan included an amnesty for anti-government protesters who lay down arms, and tighter controls over Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse the Kremlin of fuelling the fighting in Ukraine’s eastern regions by backing armed forces. Russia, however, has denied the allegations.

Earlier in November, Ukraine plunged into chaos after then President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the so-called Association Agreement with the 28-member EU. The refusal triggered months of unrest and clashes, which finally led to the ouster of Yanukovych on February 23.

Following this, pro-Russia protests broke out in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions. The protests gained momentum after independence referendums in eastern parts of Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have been carrying out military operations since mid-April to crush pro-Russia protests in the east of the country.

The violence intensified after the Donetsk region together with Lugansk declared independence on May 12 following local referendums, in which the two provinces’ residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine.