Fighters with separatist self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic army ride atop a moving armoured personnel carrier in the village of Nikishine, south east of Debaltseve February 17, 2015. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
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Ukraine Tuesday accused rebels and Russia of scuppering a fragile 3-day-old cease-fire after insurgents armed with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades stormed a flashpoint town and engaged thousands of troops there in intense combat.Ukrainian officials denied the rebels' casualty claim, but admitted that troops in a supply convoy Monday were captured.Russia and the rebels claim some 8,000 Ukrainian soldiers are in the key town.Ukraine described it as a finger of territory it controlled and therefore subject to the truce.Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of deploying troops and tanks to support the separatists in the 10-month conflict that has killed more than 5,660 people. Moscow denies that and describes the Russian fighters seen in Ukraine as "volunteers". The U.S. said Tuesday it was not in the interests of Ukraine or the world to get into a proxy war with Russia over eastern Ukraine, a comment suggesting Washington is hesitant to arm Ukrainian forces.
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