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Ukrainian forces killed in fighting near MH17 site

Smoke rises above a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Shakhtarsk on 28 July.
Smoke rises above a damaged multi-storey block of flats following what locals say was shelling by Ukrainian forces in Shakhtarsk on 28 July. Credit: Reuters

Pro-Russian separatists killed at least 10 Ukrainian paratroopers in an overnight ambush in the region of east Ukraine where a Malaysian airliner was brought down, government forces have said.

The rebels said they had "captured good trophies" and pushed back government forces around the town of Shakhtarsk, where Kiev said a paratrooper unit moving from one base to another had come under mortar and tank fire.

Shakhtarsk is close to the rolling fields where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 came down on, and fighting has raged around it for several days as the Ukrainian army tries to quell the separatist rebellion.

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Russia and Ukraine: To keep crash site route open

Russian and Ukrainian envoys have agreed to keep open a route that was used by international experts to reach the MH17 crash site, according to a senior Ukrainian government official.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groisman told a briefing in Kiev that the agreement was reached during talks in Minsk, Belarus.

More: Experts reach MH17 crash site for first time in a week

Experts pay their respects at MH17 crash site

Two weeks since the MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane was downed, members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission took a moment of silence to remember the victims.

The team of four experts from the Netherlands and Australia reached the crash site for the first time in almost a week after using a new route earlier today.

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Almost exactly 2 weeks to the hour since #MH17 came down SMM members on scene take moment of silence in remembrance http://t.co/aFwNdMbOt5

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Read: Experts reach MH17 crash site for first time in a week

Experts reach MH17 crash site for first time in a week

International monitors say they have reached the crash site of downed Malaysia Airlines plane MH17 for the first time in almost a week.

According to the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, a new access route has been used to take the team and four experts from the Netherlands and Australia.

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OSCE SMM monitors reach #MH17 crash site for 1st time in almost week, accompanied by 4 Dutch, Australian experts. Used new route to access

Experts 'to be allowed access to MH17 crash site'

Russian experts aim to visit the Malaysian airliner crash site in east Ukraine on Thursday to examine the debris together with international investigators, Interfax news agency reports, citing Russia's civil aviation authority.

"Russian experts intend to meet the head of the investigative commission ... and handover all the materials that the chairman of the commission had previously asked for," Interfax quoted a statement from the Federal Air Transport Agency.

"Today, the Russian representatives will also try to reach the crash area of the Boeing-777 and together with specialists from the international investigative commission examine the state of parts of the aircraft at the site," it added.

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Putin's judo partner among Russians hit by sanctions

Three long-time Putin associates are among the list of eight individuals who have been hit with new European Union sanctions, including Putin's former judo partner Arkady Rotenberg.

Prime Minister Putin taking part in a judo training session at the Moscow sports complex St Petersburg in 2010.
Prime Minister Putin taking part in a judo training session at the Moscow sports complex St Petersburg in 2010. Credit: Reuters

The US and European Union also announced a raft of new penalties to limit the trade of arms and technology that can be used in the oil industry and for military purposes.

The EU also put its capital markets off limits for Russian state-owned banks.

US officials said roughly 30% of Russia's banking sector assets would now be constrained by sanctions.

US and European leaders said they are prepared to intensify sanctions unless it moves to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine. In a statement this evening, the G-7 leaders said:

Russia still has the opportunity to choose the path of de-escalation, which would lead to the removal of these sanctions. If it does not do so, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs of its adverse actions.

– G7 Leaders Statement on Ukraine

Read: EU sanctions will 'inevitably lead to high energy prices'

EU sanctions will 'inevitably lead to higher energy prices'

EU sanctions will "inevitably" lead to higher energy prices on the European market, Russia has claimed.

Russian Foreign Ministry said Brussels itself is "creating barriers" for cooperation in the energy sector.

The European Union and US agreed new sanctions against Russia, targeting financial, oil and defence industries.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said today the European Union sanctions imposed on Russia are hurting the country's economy.

Russia: 'Destructive' sanctions will hurt United States

Russia called new US sanctions "destructive and short-sighted" on Wednesday and said they would only aggravate ties between Russia and the United States, already at their lowest point since the end of the Cold War over the Ukraine crisis.

"Such decisions by Washington can bring nothing but further aggravation of U.S.-Russia relations and create an utterly unfavourable environment in international affairs, where the cooperation between our states often plays a decisive role," Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"The de-facto losses from this destructive and short-sighted policy will be quite tangible for Washington."

Hammond: Sanctions are hurting Russian economy

Sanctions imposed on Russia are having an affect on the economy according to Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary.

He said Russia's predicted economic growth for this year had gone from 2.5 per cent before sanctions to "roughly zero".

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said sanctions were weakening the Russian economy.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said sanctions were weakening the Russian economy. Credit: ITN

"It is having a cost on Russia it is having a disproportionate cost on the group of people that supports and sustains the Kremlin leadership," Mr Hammond said.

"I hope they will be urging a more considered response by the Russian leadership."

He also said the Government was due to announce a new set of sanctions against Vladimir Putin's government later today.

Read: Russia attacks 'hypocritical' UN over human rights claims

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