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US warns of new sanctions as key Ukraine talks loom

People sing the Ukrainian national anthem during a pro-Ukraine rally in the eastern city of Lugansk on April 15, 2014The United States on Tuesday threatened Russia with new sanctions ahead of high-stakes talks on the Ukraine crisis, as it backed Kiev’s right to confront separatist uprisings in its volatile east. The US and the European Union are preparing for their first four-way talks with Ukraine and Russia on Thursday, although hopes are not high for any breakthrough at the Geneva meeting, amid a slew of failures in past weeks. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that with Ukraine threatened with a split between its Russian-speaking east and EU-leaning west, it is hoped the talks could de-escalate tensions. Priorities included trying to get Russia to demobilize pro-Kremlin militias, who have seized control of government buildings in 10 cities in Ukraine’s southeast, although Moscow has denied any links to them.

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