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Ukraine is holding about 10 suspected Russian intelligence agents: state security

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine is holding in detention about 10 Russian citizens, all of whom have intelligence backgrounds, the State Security Service (SBU) on Thursday. Answering a journalist's question about comments made on Thursday by Russian President Vladimir Putin about the extent of Russian involvement in the Ukraine crisis, an SBU spokeswoman said: "We have about 10 Russians, with Russian passports, who have been detained. "They have all had experience of intelligence work," she said. They were being investigated, she said.

Putin hails Russia's relationship with China

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday relations between Russia and China have developed to an all-time high and they will play a significant role on the global political stage. "It..will significantly influence the modern architecture of international relations," Putin said in a televised call-in with the nation, but added that they were "not considering the question of a military-political alliance."

Putin 'very much hopes' will not have to use army in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said he very much hopes that he will not have to use his "right" to send Russian military forces into Ukraine amid the intensifying crisis. "I very much hope that I am not obliged to use this right," said Putin, recalling that the Russian upper house of parliament had on March 1 authorised him to send troops onto Ukrainian territory. Putin had said that Russia's main demand was for guarantees of the protection of the rights for Russian-speakers living in south and east Ukraine. "It is a question of guarantees for these people."

Putin says Ukraine risks abyss, dialogue only solution

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused Ukraine's new authorities of driving the country towards the abyss but said that dialogue was the only way out of the intensifying crisis. "Only through dialogue, through democratic procedures and not with the use of armed forces, tanks and planes can order be imposed in the country," Putin said at the start of a major nationwide phone-in broadcast on Russian television.

New U.S. sanctions against Russia likely after Geneva meeting

By Jeff Mason WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New U.S. sanctions punishing Russia for its actions in Ukraine are likely to be announced as early as Friday if, as expected, a meeting between top foreign ministers in Geneva fails to produce significant progress.

McCain slams West for 'laughable' response to Russia

US senator John McCain on Wednesday described the West's response to Russian actions in Ukraine as "almost laughable", saying a stronger stance is needed to keep the Kremlin in check. The recent US and EU sanctions against Russia were "the weakest response imaginable", the Republican senator told reporters in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius while on a tour of the Baltic states. "Unless Europeans and the United States take much stronger action, I believe that Mr. Putin will feel bolder," he said after talks with Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite.

Putin warns Ukraine is on 'brink of civil war'

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on Tuesday that Ukraine is "on the brink of civil war" as clashes between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian militants escalate, the Russian presidential office said. With the Ukrainian military launching an "anti-terror" operation against militants who have seized government and police buildings and the United States backing the operation, there are few signs that tensions will ease soon in the eastern Donetsk region.

Putin tells Merkel Ukraine now 'on verge of civil war'

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine was now on the verge of civil war after the Kiev government sent in the army against separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin said Wednesday. "The Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war," the Kremlin said in a statement on telephone talks between the two leaders.

Putin tells Merkel Ukraine now 'on verge of civil war'

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine was now on the verge of civil war after the Kiev government sent in the army against separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin said Wednesday. "The Russian president remarked that the sharp escalation of the conflict has placed the country, in effect, on the verge of civil war," the Kremlin said in a statement on telephone talks between the two leaders.

US warns of new sanctions as key Ukraine talks loom

The United States on Tuesday threatened Russia with new sanctions ahead of high-stakes talks on the Ukraine crisis, as it backed Kiev's right to confront separatist uprisings in its volatile east. The US and the European Union are preparing for their first four-way talks with Ukraine and Russia on Thursday, although hopes are not high for any breakthrough at the Geneva meeting, amid a slew of failures in past weeks.
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