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Deadly gun attack in eastern Ukraine shakes fragile Easter truce

Published on Apr 20, 2014 5:40 PM
 

SLAVIANSK, Ukraine (REUTERS) - At least two people were killed in a gunfight early on Sunday near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, testing an already fragile international accord that is supposed to defuse Ukraine's armed stand-off.

Hours earlier, Ukraine's Western-backed government in Kiev had declared a truce to coincide with the Easter religious holiday, giving international mediators an opportunity to try to persuade armed pro-Russian groups to disarm.

The crisis over Ukraine has dragged relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest ebb since the Cold War, and risks escalating this week with a US threat of further sanctions against Moscow if the pro-Russian separatists do not pull back.

A deal signed in Geneva last week by the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States agreed that illegal armed groups would go home, but so far they have shown no signs of budging, leaving the accord looking threadbare.

A Pro-Russian militant walks past burnt cars near a checkpoint that was the scene of a gunfight overnight near the city of Slaviansk on April 20, 2014. At least two people were killed in a gunfight early on Sunday, April 20, 2014, near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, testing an already fragile international accord that is supposed to defuse Ukraine's armed stand-off. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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