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Ukraine rejects truce talks until rebels disarm

Pro-Russian militants patrol in an old coal mine on July 8, 2014 after an air strike in Donetsk, eastern UkraineUkraine on Tuesday brushed off strong European pressure and rejected talks with pro-Russian rebels on a truce to halt a bloody insurgency convulsing the ex-Soviet nation until they lay down their arms. The unconditional stance reflected a new confidence in Kiev that it was on the verge of quashing an uprising it views as Moscow’s retribution for the February ouster of a Kremlin-backed leader and the decision to pursue a historic alliance with the West. “Now, any negotiations are possible only after the rebels completely lay down their arms,” Defence Minister Valeriy Geletey said in a statement. Ukrainian forces have scored a string of surprise military successes since the weekend that forced most of the militias to retreat to the sprawling eastern industrial hubs of Donetsk and Lugansk — both capitals of their own “People’s Republics”.

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