An elderly man stands next a barricade near the secret service building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk on April 22, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF)
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Ukraine relaunched military operations against pro-Kremlin separatists late Tuesday, hours after US Vice President Joe Biden ended a two-day visit to Kiev in which he warned Russia over its actions in the former Soviet republic.Russia already has tens of thousands of its troops massed on Ukraine's eastern border.Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, late Tuesday said he was ordering the military to restart operations against the rebels after the discovery of two "brutally tortured" bodies in the eastern rebel-held town of Slavyansk.Biden called on Russia to pull back its forces from the border, and to reverse its annexation last month of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula."We in the United States stand with you and the Ukrainian people," Biden said in a joint news conference with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. He added that the United States was stepping up to help Ukraine lessen its dependence on Russian gas, fight corruption, and prepare for a May 25 election to choose a new president. In the town of Lugansk, close to the Russian border, protesters pledged to hold their own local referendum on autonomy on May 11, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.
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