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Retreating rebels dig in around Ukraine coal hub

A Ukrainian government soldier stands guard on July 7, 2014 in the eastern Ukrainian city of SlavyanskRetreating pro-Russian insurgents dug in on Monday in Ukraine’s sprawling industrial hub of Donetsk after government forces scored a string of morale-boosting victories in the bloody battle for the future of the ex-Soviet state. The rebels erected checkpoints along the main roads leading into Donetsk while the centre of the riverbank city itself saw several restaurants and shops shutter their doors. The separatists’ “tactical retreat” began on Saturday with the fall of their symbolic bastion Slavyansk and continued until government forces had reached the very gates of the region’s main metropolis. Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council deputy head Mykhailo Koval said on Monday that soldiers now intended to complete a “full blockade” of Donetsk and the neighbouring stronghold of Lugansk — both capitals of their own “People’s Republics”.

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