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Russia's Putin Blames Kiev for Increased Violence in East Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during a meeting with representatives of Crimean national minorities in Yalta.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday blamed the Ukrainian government for the latest upsurge in fighting between Kiev forces and Russia-backed rebels in east Ukraine.

After taking a dive in an underwater submersible in Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula Moscow annexed from Kiev last year, Putin told reporters:

"Regrettably, we are now seeing this conflict escalation and the blame lies not with the Donbas militia but with the rival side," he said, referring to the rebel-held Ukrainian region.

"I hope there won't be full-scale direct clashes."

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