Ukrainian forces win more ground in eastern Ukraine; 9 troops dead, clashes on border continue

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Associated Press

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 3:33 PM

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Fighting in eastern Ukraine today has left at least nine government soldiers dead.

The military has been pressing an offensive against pro-Russian insurgents, using heavy artillery and combat jets. Ukrainian security officials say they've recaptured 17 eastern villages from the insurgents.

Prospects for a truce appear dim. Ukraine's president says his government is ready to conduct another round of talks with Russia and the rebels tomorrow, but there's no word on where those talks might take place. Two previous rounds held during a ten-day cease-fire brought no visible progress.

Kiev also is accusing Moscow of making aggressive moves, including massing troops near the border and allowing insurgents to attack Ukrainian border posts from its side. The head of Ukraine's SBU security service says 20 Russian tanks or armored vehicles have illegally crossed the border to take part in the insurgency in the past four days.

Russia is pushing for a truce with President Vladimir Putin facing increasingly angry nationalist demands to send troops to help the insurgency. Such a move would almost certainly trigger new, potentially crippling Western sanctions.

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APPHOTO XDL103: Ukrainian government forces maneuver antiaircraft missile launchers Buk as they are transported north-west from Slavyansk, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) (4 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO XDL101: A radar tower burns after fighting between pro-Russian fighters and Ukrainian government forces in Donetsk International airport near the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) (4 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO XDL102: Ukrainian army soldiers move to a position near the village of Dovgenke, Kharkiv region, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) (4 Jul 2014)

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APPHOTO XDL104: A woman walks past a school damaged during shelling by Ukrainian government forces in the city of Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine Friday, July 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky) (4 Jul 2014)

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