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Russia denies 'humanitarian' push into Ukraine as forces surround rebel-held Donetsk

Published on Aug 10, 2014 1:11 AM
A Ukrainian serviceman sits on a military armoured vehicle near Donetsk on Aug 9, 2014. Ukraine said on Saturday it had headed off an attempt by Russia to send troops into Ukraine under the guise of peacekeepers with the aim of provoking a large-scale military conflict, a statement Moscow dismissed as a "fairy tale". -- PHOTO: REUTERS

DONETSK (AFP) - Russia denied allegations Saturday that it tried to send "humanitarian" troops into conflict-torn eastern Ukraine, as rebels in the surrounded stronghold of Donetsk pledged to keep fighting.

Kiev said earlier that it had managed to halt a Russian convoy through diplomatic channels, after the United States warned that any unilateral intervention by Moscow would be "deeply alarming" and considered an invasion.

Rebels meanwhile called for a truce on humanitarian grounds but said they were willing to fight for "every street" of the city, which has become the key battleground in the four-month-old conflict between Ukrainian government forces and eastern separatists.

An AFP journalist heard repeated shelling in the city throughout the morning and again in the afternoon. Local authorities said mortar fire hit neighbourhoods north and southwest of the centre, and one person was killed.

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