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    Russia Urges Kiev to Halt Punitive Operations, Pull Back Troops

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    Kiev must immediately stop its punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine and work to settle the conflict in the country peacefully, the Kremlin said Monday.

    MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – Kiev must immediately stop its punitive operation in southeastern Ukraine and work to settle the conflict in the country peacefully, the Kremlin said Monday.

    “Russia calls for the immediate halt to the punitive operation, violent acts, the pulling back of troops, and to solve the accumulated issues exclusively through peaceful methods,” the Kremlin’s press service said.

    Kiev’s interim government launched a special operation last month to crack down on pro-federalization supporters, who have refused to recognize the country’s new authorities that came to power following a coup in February.

    The military operation has already led to dozens of casualties. Full-scale fighting is currently underway in Donetsk Region, which proclaimed itself an independent people’s republic together with Luhansk Region after a referendum held on May 11.

    Russia has repeatedly warned Kiev of the grave consequences that a “punitive operation” against its own citizens might have, and called on the UN and other Western partners to take immediate action to stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

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