Ukraine, Russia raise stakes ahead of peace talks

Ukrainian special troops guard in the southern city of Odessa during the anti-terrorists operation on January 5, 2015Ukraine fended off renewed financial pressure from Russia on Saturday by accusing Moscow of orchestrating rebel attacks that killed two soldiers and heightened tensions ahead of mooted international peace talks. The stakes between Moscow and Kiev have been rising since Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko surprised many at the end of December by announcing plans to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin at a mini-summit in the Kazakh capital Astana on Thursday. The two leaders have rarely spoken since agreeing to a September 5 truce that was meant to calm a pro-Russian mutiny in eastern Ukraine in which more than 4,700 people have now lost their lives.

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