Battle rages in eastern Ukraine - Tucson News Now

Battle rages in eastern Ukraine

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The eastern town of Slovyansk has been the scene of some particularly heavy fighting. (Source: CNN) The eastern town of Slovyansk has been the scene of some particularly heavy fighting. (Source: CNN)
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NEAR SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE (CNN) - Ukraine and Russia are said to be holding talks in an effort to resolve a dispute over gas supplies.

Moscow has threatened to cut off the gas if Kiev does not pay for past bills.

But Kiev says it can't afford the new amount now demanded by Russia.

The talks follow a meeting held by the presidents of Ukraine and Russia just last week as unrest continues in Ukraine.

The eastern town of Slovyansk has been the scene of some particularly heavy fighting, and civilians are getting caught in the crossfire.

The battle between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists goes on.

Apartment blocks smolder in the center of Slovyansk.

Shelling by the Ukrainian army has ripped holes through bricks and mortar, and smashed homes and livelihoods.

The city is blockaded with every access route cut off.

A few days ago there was a trickle of refugees coming down the road toward Kramatorsk. But the pro-Russian separatists who man the checkpoint say today, they've seen no one.

One man reached via telephone is trying to help people flee.

"It's very difficult. There's no gas, no electricity and no water. People are beginning to starve," he said of the conditions inside Slovyansk.

Neighboring Semenovka is heavily damaged.

No sign of the locals in the city either. But separatist fighters show no sign of giving in.

In nearby Kramatorsk by contrast, the scene is surreal.

Slot machine barricades, a troupe of swaggering Cossacks, crossed over from Russia two months ago, their commander says.

They stop for no one.

"Of course they can't stop us. It's our land. Whoever tries to stop us will be left dead, wounded or tied up," said Alexander Mozhaev, a Cossack fighter.

The Russian-Ukrainian border is a major weakness for Kiev, measuring 1,200 miles, much of it unmarked and unmanned.

Many border crossings have been abandoned and others attacked.

Last week at Marynivka the Ukrainian border guard repelled a separatist assault after a four-hour battle.

Ukrainian guards said they were stunned to see the attackers use an armored personnel carrier, which they captured.

It's now a Ukrainian island in a region where separatists still hold sway.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

 

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