Pro-Russian gunmen guard next to their trenches fighting position at the Oktyaber neighborhood, north west of Donetsk, near the destroyed airport, on November 13, 2014, following last days shelling in eastern Ukraine. AFP PHOTO/MENAHEM KAHANA
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Russia hit back Thursday against Western claims that it was sending fresh military hardware into eastern Ukraine which could fuel a return to all-out conflict.Asked at a press conference if Russian soldiers were fighting and dying in Ukraine, Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said: "Short answer -- no".Ukraine said four of its soldiers had been killed in the past 24 hours and 23 wounded.Pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine have been fighting Ukrainian forces since April in a war which has claimed more than 4,000 lives and driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.The OSCE says its monitors saw a van marked "Cargo 200" -- Russian military code for military personnel killed in action -- crossing from Russia into Ukraine and back again on Tuesday.Rebel negotiator Denis Pushilin has called for a fresh meeting over the ceasefire of the so-called Contact Group on Ukraine which includes representatives from the separatist side, Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE.
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