Pro-Russian fighters gather to take an oath in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Saturday, June 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed support Saturday for Ukraine's unilateral cease-fire in its battle against pro-Russian separatists and appealed to both sides to halt all military operations.U.S. officials also accused Russian troops of moving back into positions near the border with Ukraine's troubled east.The statement said Putin supported Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's decision to order Ukrainian troops to observe a unilateral cease-fire starting Friday night.It remains unclear whether Russia can or will influence the pro-Russian fighters to de-escalate the conflict.The more open-minded tone of the latest Kremlin statement contrasted with Putin's move Saturday to order military forces in central Russia to go on combat alert and to launch an exercise for airborne troops.Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's embattled east have dismissed the cease-fire as fake -- and continued to shoot at Ukraine border positions after the truce began Friday night.
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