On the Ropes, Ukraine Rebels Blame Russia

Putin strangely silent as Ukraine toughens ceasefire demands
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2014 7:47 AM CDT
People walk under a destroyed railroad bridge over a main road leading into the east Ukraine city of Donetsk, July 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
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(Newser) – Separatists in Eastern Ukraine are starting to complain that Moscow has sold them out, as they prepare for what the New York Times is declaring their "last stand." As they retreated toward Donetsk yesterday, insurgents blew up two road bridges and a railroad bridge behind them. An emboldened Ukraine today said that it would not reopen ceasefire negotiations until the rebels had laid down their weapons entirely, the AP reports. The once undermanned and outgunned Ukrainian force is now noticeably better armed, using buses and pickup trucks alongside its armored vehicles to transport what the Telegraph describes as a "motley mix" of police, special forces, and militiamen.

Ukraine says it has succeeded in sealing the Russian border, preventing troops and weapons from flowing to the rebels. But Vladimir Putin has been suspiciously silent, ignoring the separatists' increasingly urgent pleas for help, and many are speculating that he aims to cut his losses, having already taken the real prize of Crimea, the Wall Street Journal reports. Observers believe Moscow has ruled out any military intervention, and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov struck a decidedly peaceful tone at a news conference, saying, "A quick end to the bloodshed is in our common interest." But one US official cautioned against declaring victory. "There is only one person who knows what Putin is planning," he said, "and that is Putin."

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