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Russia's Putin seeks 'statehood' talks on east Ukraine

A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, at a range in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, on August 31, 2014Moscow and Kiev representatives will meet in Minsk Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for statehood to be discussed for the restive east of the former Soviet state. Putin’s remarks on Sunday came just hours after the European Union gave Moscow — which the bloc accuses of direct involvement in the Ukraine insurgency — a week to change course or face new sanctions. “We need to immediately begin substantive talks… on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood in southeastern Ukraine,” the Russian leader was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying. Moscow has previously only called for “federalisation” that would grant greater rights to the eastern regions of Ukraine, where predominantly Russian-speakers live.

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