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Nine soldiers killed as Ukraine helicopter shot down

Meanwhile, Putin calls on Russian parliament to cancel resolution sanctioning Russian military force in Ukraine.

In this May 2 photo, a Ukrainian soldier smokes at a burned-out pro-Russia checkpoint 10km outside the rebel stronghold of Slavyansk.
In this May 2 photo, a Ukrainian soldier smokes at a burned-out pro-Russia checkpoint 10km outside the rebel stronghold of Slavyansk.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed today when their helicopter was shot down by pro-Russian rebels near the rebel-controlled city of city of Slavyansk, despite a truce being ordered by a top militia leader yesterday.

Ukrainian defence spokesperson Vladyslav Seleznyov confirmed the deaths in a post on Facebook, writing: “There were nine people on board the (Mi-8) helicopter. According to preliminary information…everyone on board died.”

Twelve Ukrainian soldiers were killed when another Mi-8 helicopter was shot down in the same area on 29 May.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called a seven-day ceasefire on Friday. Yesterday, pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine said they would respect the ceasefire.

Over 370 people have been killed in the violence since April.

Earlier today Russian President Vladimir Putin today asked the Russian parliament to cancel a resolution sanctioning the use of military force in Ukraine. His spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the decision to rescind the vote, which would have allowed Russian troops to invade Ukraine to protect ethnic Russians, was aimed at “normalising the atmosphere and resolving the situation”.

Putin also today called for the seven-day ceasefire to be extending, adding that the end of hostilities must be linked to talks.

The EU warned it could introduce further sanctions against the Russian economy if it fails to help de-escalate the crisis. The EU’s next summit is due to be held on Friday.

Meanwhile, OSCE chairman, Didier Burkhalter, said that the organisation needs a ceasefire “which lasts five days to be able to start real dialogue”.

- Additional reporting by the Associated Press and the AFP

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