Pro-Russia protester wearing gas masks storm a regional police building as one prepares a petrol bomb in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka (Gorlovka), near Donetsk, on April 14, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/ ALEXEY KRAVTSOV)
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Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine Monday, expanding their control after the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown, leaving Moscow's partisans essentially unopposed.European foreign ministers agreed to widen sanctions against Moscow, and the White House said Washington was seeking ways to impose more "costs" on Russia, for what Kiev and its Western friends call a Russian plot to dismember Ukraine. Ukraine's interim president Oleksander Turchinov vowed that the offensive against the rebels would still go ahead.The uprising in eastern Ukraine began eight days ago but has accelerated sharply in the past 48 hours, with separatists seizing ever more buildings, including arsenals filled with weapons.Putin told U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during a telephone conversation Monday that charges of Russia meddling in eastern Ukraine were based on "unfounded information," the Kremlin said.The Kremlin said the Russian president was listening.
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