Europe warns Russia over Ukraine rebel poll

Electoral workers count ballotsEurope on Monday warned Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty as Moscow turned the screws on Kiev by recognising controversial rebel polls and fighting flared in the separatist east. Elections in the pro-Russian separatist area deepened international tensions over Ukraine, raising fears that a shaky two-month old truce could collapse. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top spokesman described as “incomprehensible” Moscow’s endorsement of the vote — in which the Kremlin-backed candidates faced no serious competition — and warned it would “further aggravate the crisis.” The angry European response raised the temperature in the West’s dispute with Russia over its support for separatists who have torn a swathe of Ukraine’s industrial heartland out from the pro-Western government’s control.

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