US blames Russian-backed rebels for rise in Ukraine violence

A Ukrainian serviceman sits behind his rifle, on the position near Popasna, in the Donetsk region, on August 18, 2015Washington blamed Russian-backed separatist rebels Monday for an uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine, as Western leaders met in Berlin to discuss the way forward. “It is the combined Russian separatist forces, and not Ukrainian forces, who are initiating aggressive activities,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said. Poroshenko is in Berlin to discuss the upsurge in violence and the now-tattered ceasefire with French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who are heavily invested in the Ukrainian peace process.

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