A Pro-Russian rebel prepares arms for the the assault on the positions of Ukrainian army in Donetsk airport, eastern Ukraine August 31, 2014. (AP Photo/Mstislav Chernov)
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Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that a deal to end fighting in eastern Ukraine could be reached this week, a clear attempt to show the West he was trying to de-escalate the conflict despite renewed shelling.U.S. President Barack Obama said a cease-fire would succeed only if Moscow stopped sending troops to Ukraine.Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the leaders agreed on steps towards peace but not a cease-fire because Russia was not a party to the conflict, which has killed more than 2,600 people since April and caused the worst crisis in relations between Russia and the West since the Cold War.The West accuses Russia of arming the rebels and sending troops into Ukraine to turn the tide of fighting in the almost five month-old conflict.Despite Russia's denials it has any military presence in Ukraine, Western governments say they have overwhelming evidence that it has sent in troops and tanks to rescue the separatists from defeat and enable them to turn the tide of the conflict.
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