Putin toughens stance as rebels seize key port city

August 30, 2014 6:15 AM

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Putin toughens stance as rebels seize key port city

MOSCOW — As Russian-backed rebels entrenched themselves in a newly captured and strategically located town in southeast Ukraine on Friday, President Vladimir Putin bluntly strengthened Moscow’s hard-line position that the government in Kiev must be compelled to negotiate regional autonomy.

Abandoning his more frequent conciliatory stance, Putin issued a rare, open, congratulatory message to the insurgents. They had “achieved a major success in intercepting Kiev’s military operation,” he said on his website.

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