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Ukraine government suspends MH17 crash site truce

The Ukrainian government has suspended a ceasefire in the area surrounding the MH17 crash site after the recovery mission was halted yesterday, Reuters reported.

The Netherlands halted the operation because of fighting in eastern Ukraine, the Dutch prime minister announced yesterday.

Mark Rutte told journalists in The Hague the risk posed to the team of 70 Australian, Dutch and Malaysian experts was too great to continue working in the area.

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Pro-Russian rebel leader steps aside for Ukrainian

The head of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" has stepped down in favour of a native Ukraine in a move regarded as an attempt to defuse claims the pro-Russian rebels are being directed by Moscow.

Alexander Borodai (left), the former leader of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic", shakes hands with his replacement, Alexander Zakharchenko. Credit: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

Aleksander Borodai said he would now serve as deputy leader to Alexander Zakharchenko, who is from Donetsk.

"After all, I am a native of Moscow and I think the DNR [Donetsk People's Republic] should be run by a person who is body and soul of Donbass," Borodai said in a reference to the wider Donetsk region.

Zakharchenko commands a heavily armed rebel unit called Oplot, which has taken part in some of the fiercest battles and has its origins in a martial arts club.

Analysts said the move was unlikely to have a significant influence on the battle for control of eastern Ukraine.

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