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Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels agree peace plan

Ukraine's government and pro-Russian rebels have agreed to strengthen a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine.

More than 3,000 people have died in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Credit: Reuters

The deal includes creating a buffer zone to separate government troops and pro-Russian militants, withdrawing heavy weapons and foreign fighters and bans flights by military aircraft over eastern Ukraine.

Agreement was reached following talks in the Belarusian capital Minsk between representatives of Ukraine, Russia, separatists and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

It is hoped the agreement will add substance to the ceasefire deal that was signed on September 5.

More than 3,000 people have been killed since fighting began in the region five months ago.

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Huge tomato fight protests Russian EU food embargo

Around 2000 people gathered at the main square in Amsterdam today to join a tomato fight in support of the Dutch farmers affected by a Russian boycott of EU agricultural products.

The popular Spanish La Tomatina festival inspired a few young Dutch entrepreneurs to organise Amsterdam's version of the tomato fight.

Participants used about 10,000 kilos of tomatoes in the one-hour fight.

Organiser Joep Verbunt said: "Our farmers have a big problem because they cannot deliver their products anymore to Russia."

"Everybody who is here pays 15 euros, so the money goes to the farmers that have the problem," Verbunt told Reuters as he got hit by a flying tomato.

Ukraine PM slams Russia as 'threat to global order'

Only membership of NATO would enable Ukraine to defend itself from external aggression, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said.

Speaking at a conference in Kiev attended by Ukrainian and European lawmakers and business leaders on Saturday, Yatseniuk made clear he did not view the ceasefire as the start of a sustainable peace process because of Putin's ambitions.

We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation ... Putin wants another frozen conflict (in eastern Ukraine).

His goal is to take all of Ukraine ... Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe.

NATO in these particular circumstances is the only vehicle to protect Ukraine.

– Arseny Yatseniuk, Ukrainian Prime Minister

Ukraine 'still in a state of war with Russia'

A Russian convoy of aid tanks arrives yesterday evening. Credit: Reuters

Ukraine is "still in a state of war" with neighbouring Russia despite a cease-fire between Kiev's forces and Moscow-backed rebels in the east, the country's prime minister said as a second convoy of Russian trucks rolled into Ukraine.

Speaking at a conference with politicians and business leaders in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Russian President Vladimir Putin's goal is "to take the entire Ukraine".

Donetsk city council said there had been fighting near the airport overnight. Two shells hit homes in the area but there were no reports of casualities.

Heavy fighting reported near Donetsk airport

Heavy artillery has been reported across northern Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, and a large plume of black smoke has been seen by eyewitnesses, Reuters reports.

Donetsk airport remains in the hands of Ukrainian government forces, while the city is controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Earlier, the Ukrainian military said the rebels had fired on their forces overnight in the area of the airport.

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Putin 'wants to destroy Ukraine and restore Soviet Union'

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to destroy Ukraine as an independent country and restore the Soviet Union, the country's prime minister claimed today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin leaves a Moscow church this week. Credit: RIA Novosti/Reuters

Arseny Yatseniuk also praised a new wave of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union and the United States and said they posed a major threat to the Russian economy.

"We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation ... Putin wants another frozen conflict (in eastern Ukraine)," he said at an conference in Kiev attended by European and Ukrainian politicians and business leaders.

"His goal is to take the entire Ukraine ... Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the entire Europe," Yatseniuk added.

US joins EU in imposing tougher sanctions on Russia

President Obama said measures would "increase Russia's political isolation ". Credit: PA

President Barack Obama said the United States will join the European Union in imposing tougher sanctions on Russia's financial, energy and defence sectors after Moscow sent troops into eastern Ukraine last month.

"These measures will increase Russia's political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him," Obama said in a statement.

The President said the US will provide details on the new steps tomorrow.

Rouble hits historic low after sanctions confirmed

A bank teller counts roubles. Credit: Reuters

The Russian rouble reached a new historic low against the dollar shortly after David Cameron said the European Union would introduce new sanctions against Russia on Friday.

At 1108 GMT the rouble was trading at 31.54, below its previous historic low of 37.51.

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