Ukraine gains ground in city held by rebels

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KIEV, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces have raised their national flag over a police station in the city of Luhansk, which was for months under rebel control, Kiev said Sunday, in what could be a breakthrough in Ukraine’s efforts to crush pro-Moscow separatists.

Ukrainian officials said the rebels were fighting a desperate rearguard action to hold on to Luhansk — which is their supply route into neighboring Russia — and that the flow of weapons and fighters from Russia had accelerated.

The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany were meeting in Berlin and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said talks would focus on how to achieve a cease-fire and prevent weapons and fighters crossing into eastern Ukraine.

“The news from today shows that we are far from an end to the conflict. People are still dying. We have no cease-fire. We are far away from a political solution,” Mr. Steinmeier said before the meeting.

Russia denies helping the rebels and accuses Kiev, backed by the West, of triggering a humanitarian crisis through indiscriminate use of force against Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine who reject the Ukrainian government’s rule.

Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said government forces fought separatists in Luhansk on Saturday and took control of the Zhovtneviy neighborhood police station.

Separatist officials in Luhansk could not be reached by telephone, and a separatist spokeswoman in Donetsk, the other rebel stronghold, said she had no information about Luhansk.



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