Ukrainian soldiers drive a military vehicle with a Ukrainian flag at a checkpoint near Slaviansk in eastern Ukraine July 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Andrew Kravchenko)
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Fighting in eastern Ukraine left at least nine Ukrainian soldiers dead Friday, as government troops pressed their offensive against pro-Russian insurgents using heavy artillery and combat jets and prospects of a truce appeared dim.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine was ready to conduct another round of talks between representatives from Ukraine, Russia and the rebels on Saturday, but didn't name their venue. Ukraine's National Security Council chief Andriy Parubiy said Friday that Russia was massing troops near the Ukrainian border and claimed that it let insurgents attack the Ukrainian border posts from its side.Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, the head of Ukraine's SBU security service, told journalists that over the past four days 20 Russian tanks or armored vehicles had illegally crossed the border to take part in the insurgency.Ukraine says Russia is arming and supporting the separatists, a charge that Russia denies. Insurgents in Luhansk said Friday they have killed 125 Ukrainian troops, destroyed nine armored vehicles and downed three combat aircraft since Wednesday.
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