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Backing Ukraine, Biden blasts Russia for land grab

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In an effort to calm pro-Russian separatists, the government in Kiev has promised to grant more autonomy to local authorities to run their own affairs. It has also begun preparing an amnesty law to cover pro-Russian militants who voluntarily give up their weapons and vacate seized buildings.

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U.S. soldiers headed to Poland

Washington » U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of military exercises in four countries across Eastern Europe to bolster allies in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last month. An Army company of about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, will start the exercises Wednesday in Poland. Additional Army companies will head to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and are expected to arrive by Monday for similar land-based exercises in those countries.

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But Kiev has balked at Russian demands for so-called "federalization," a wholesale reworking of Ukraine’s state structure, viewing as a ruse to divide the country and place big chunks of territory in the south and east, an area that President Vladimir Putin last week called "New Russia," under Moscow’s control.

Speaking in Moscow on Tuesday, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia was quoted as saying in parliament that Russia could minimize the impact of any sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis and would insist on fair access to foreign markets for its energy exports.

"We will not give up on cooperation with foreign companies, including from Western countries, but we will be ready for unfriendly steps," Medvedev said.

"I am sure we can minimize their impact," he said in a clear reference to sanctions. "We will not allow our citizens to become hostages of political games."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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