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Pro-Russian rebels advance against government forces

Pro-Russian rebels have advanced against government forces during fighting around the airports in Luhansk and Donetsk, as well as moving toward the strategic port of Mariupol.

Separatists also killed two sailors when a Ukrainian naval vessel was hit by artillery fired from the shore - the first such attack since the conflict began in April.

ITV News' Europe Editor James Mates reports from Donetsk:

Nato set to create new 'high-readiness force'

Nato leaders meeting this week are expected to create "a very high-readiness force" to deal with Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The new force could include several thousand troops that will be mobilised for action in any potential 'hotspot' within 48 hours, according to officials.

Nato already has a rapid reaction force but US President Barack Obama and other leaders meeting for a summit in Wales this week are expected to create a new force that would be able to respond more quickly to a crisis.

We will develop what I would call a spearhead ... a very high-readiness force able to deploy at very short notice. This could include several thousand troops, ready to respond where needed with air, sea and special forces support.

– Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen


PM: Russian troops in Ukraine is 'unjustifiable'

David Cameron says Russia appears to be trying to force Ukraine "to give up its democratic choices at the barrel of a gun".

Speaking in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said the presence of Russian soldiers on Ukrainian soil is "completely unjustified and unacceptable".

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron speaking on Ukraine in the House of Commons Credit: Pool

Rebels would stay in Ukraine if granted 'special status'

Pro-Russian rebels have said they would be prepared to stay part of Ukraine if they were granted "special status," Russian news agencies report.

In a statement the separatists said one of their key conditions would be for Kiev to immediately end its military offensive.

Fighting is still continuing in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting is still continuing in eastern Ukraine. Credit: Reuters

Ceasefire talks were going ahead today but no major decision was expected.

Andrei Purgin, one of the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic, said: "This is the beginning of the process. We have come with proposals to find common ground and end the war and people dying."

EU could limit gas use for winter if Russia cuts supply

The European Union could limit gas use to protect household energy this winter if Russia cuts off its gas supply to Europe over the Ukraine crisis.

Russia has threatened to cut off its gas supply to Europe.
Russia has threatened to cut off its gas supply to Europe. Credit: Reuters

Kiev claims Russia has threatened to halt its supply over fears Ukraine could siphon off energy destined for the EU as the pipeline runs through the country.

An EU source told Reuters: "In the short-term, we are very worried about winter supplies in south west Europe. Our best hope in case of a cut is emergency measures to protect households."

On Wednesday the EU is expected to discuss whether to impose new sanctions on Russia if they fail to pull its forces out of Ukraine. If it agrees to do so the sanctions are likely to be financial.

Russia calls for 'peaceful settlement' in Ukraine

Russia has called for peace in Ukraine as it tries to push for a ceasefire.

Russia foreign minister Sergei Lavrov urged for a new round of talks on the issue and said: "We call for an exclusively peaceful settlement of this severe crisis, this tragedy."

If talks are successful pro-Russian separatists said they will release Ukrainian prisoners-of-war.
If talks are successful pro-Russian separatists said they will release Ukrainian prisoners-of-war. Credit: Reuters

Pro-Russian separatist leader Andrei Purgin said they were willing to discuss the exchange of prisoners and a temporary ceasefire.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine between separatists and the Ukrainian government has been going on since Russia annexed Ukraine's southern peninsula of Crimea in April.


Merkel on Russian sanctions: 'Doing nothing is not option'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said further sanctions must be imposed even if it affects German business.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said further sanctions must be imposed even if it affects German business. Credit: Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said doing nothing in response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine is "not an option".

She said further sanctions should be imposed even if they impacted on German companies.

"Accepting Russia's behaviour is not an option. And therefore it was necessary to prepare further sanctions," she said.

Seven Ukrainian soldiers killed in the past 24 hours

Seven Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the past 24 hours, a military spokesman has confirmed.

Earlier the military said Ukrainian paratroopers were fighting a Russian tank battalion in a bid to hold onto the airport outside Luhansk, a separatist stronghold on the border with Russia.

But military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces have now pulled back from the airport after being ordered to do so.

Ukraine accuses Russia of 'direct and open aggression'

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Russia of launching a "direct and open aggression" against Ukraine.

He added there would be "high-level personnel changes" within the Ukrainian armed forces in light of the events of the past few days.

This is in spite of ceasefire negotiation talks due to take place later today.

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