THE GUARDIAN.  Russia is conducting military exercises with more than 100 aircraft in the country's central and western districts, in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine.

A Russian air force spokesman, Igor Klimov, told the Interfax news agency that aircraft including MiG-31 fighter jets and Russia's newest frontline bomber, the Su-34, would be used in the exercises and that the aircraft would conduct missile practice.

The exercises were planned to take place from Monday to Thursday.

Russia's defence ministry could not immediately be reached for comment.

The exercises came as fighting continued in eastern Ukraine as the advancing national army tried to seize control of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian military operation, Alexei Dmitrashkovsky, said government soldiers were fighting on Sunday to hold positions they had taken on the edge of Donetsk, but were meeting resistance.

The separatists, who are in danger of being encircled, have renewed their calls for Russia to send troops to their aid.

Ukraine and western leaders say they have evidence that Russia is arming the separatists. Russia denies this and describes the Russian citizens fighting in eastern Ukraine as volunteers.

The ongoing battles have delayed the start of an international search for body parts still lying in the fields where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down on 17 July, killing all 298 people on board.

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RFERL.  Nine civilians have been reported killed in fresh fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, as international experts continued working at the MH17 crash site.

Body parts found by the international investigators at the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine have been delivered to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

Andriy Lysenko, the spokesman for Ukraine's National Defense and Security Council, has claimed pro-government forces have captured two key towns near the city of Donetsk.

Lysenko also said Kyiv has received reports of Russian forces gathering at areas some 5 kilometers from Ukraine's eastern border. Lysenko said those reports included claims that farmers in Russian areas along Ukraine's border were instructed to gather their harvests by August 3.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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