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Separatists vote for leader in breakaway eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists will vote to set up a breakaway regional leadership in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk and Luhansk aiming to take their war-torn region closer to Russia and defying Kiev and the West as the big guns still boom across the territory.

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Obama discusses Ukraine with German Chancellor

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Barack Obama Credit: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/Press Association Images

President Obama spoke by telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the ongoing situation in Ukraine, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Carney said the call, which happened while Obama was traveling on Air Force One from Austin, Texas, was "just to check in on the situation." He said more details would be provided later on Thursday.

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