A shop owner looks at destroyed lamps in his store after what locals say was overnight shelling by Ukrainian forces, in the eastern Ukrainian town of Slaviansk June 9, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
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Ukraine launched delicate dual-track diplomatic negotiations with Russia Monday aimed at averting a debilitating gas cut and ending a bloody separatist insurgency by the end of the week.The 48-year-old confectionery tycoon and political veteran promised late Sunday to end fighting "this week" in Ukraine's economically vital eastern rustbelt that has claimed more than 200 lives.And he affirmed after being sworn in as Ukraine's fifth president on Saturday that Kiev would sign a historic pact with the European Union that would finally wrest it out of Russia's orbit.The Ukrainian army also said pro-Russian gunmen had taken several of its soldiers prisoner overnight.About 15 percent of Europe's gas from Russia transits through Ukraine -- a dependence that EU nations have been trying to limit ever since suffering similar disruptions in 2006 and 2009 .Ukraine has refused to pay the bills in protest at Russia's decision to nearly double its neighbour's rates in the wake of the February ouster of Kiev's Kremlin-backed president.
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