Russian-backed separatist sniper plays with a dog as he and others wait for transport preparing to leave towards frontline, in the village of Vergulivka, just outside Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Maximilian Clarke)
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Ferocious fighting raged in Ukraine on Saturday, threatening a ceasefire deal as Kiev and the US accused Russia of fueling a rebel onslaught to grab territory before the truce started.Kiev and the West accuse Russia of pouring arms and troops into Ukraine to shore up the rebels. The Kremlin has consistently denied the charges, but the pro-Moscow rebels boast the modern heavy weaponry of a regular army and frequently outgun Ukrainian forces. US President Barack Obama has warned he could start arms supplies to Ukraine if the new peace deal collapses. Ukraine's military said Saturday that rebel forces had tried overnight to storm government positions on the edge of the strategic battleground town of Debaltseve, where Kiev denies rebels have trapped thousands of its troops. The surging fighting came after rebels and Kiev agreed to the wide-ranging plan on Thursday following tortuous talks in Minsk between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.Under the Minsk agreement, Kiev will also begin retaking control over the approximately 400-kilometre (250 mile) stretch of Russia's border with rebel-held Ukraine, but only after local elections are held.
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