Ukraine – Heavy Fighting in Pro-Russian Separatist Stronghold

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Deaths Reported on Both Sides From Sustained Fighting in Slovyansk.

Pro-Russian supporters lead an unidentified man in front of the occupied regional administration building

Heavy fighting erupted Monday around a pro-Russian separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine, with dozens of casualties reported as the standoff between insurgents and the government entered a more dangerous phase.

The fighting was the most sustained since acting President Oleksandr Turchynov first sent troops to eastern Ukraine about three weeks ago, in what he called an antiterrorist operation. Accounts from both sides suggested the military was pushing further into the volatile, heavily defended city of Slovyansk, following days of intermittent clashes focused there.

Mr. Turchynov reiterated Monday that the government was prepared to negotiate with the pro-Russian protesters, who are seeking greater autonomy for eastern Ukraine.

But in a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he said discussions with “someone who picks up and uses weapons against citizens of Ukraine” would be impossible.

Germany floated the idea of another round of talks in Geneva between Ukraine, the European Union, the U.S. and Russia to send a “strong political signal” that last month’s agreement—which both sides have accused the other of ignoring—will be implemented.

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