"--IANS/EFE"
Moscow, June 6 (IANS/EFE) Separatists, loyal to Russia, have gained control over 150-200 km of the Ukrainian-Russian border after the border guards abandoned four crossings in the Ukrainian region of Luhansk.

Vasily Nikitin, prime minister of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Luhansk, said the armed wing of the rebels in the southeast is controlling 150-200 km of the border, noting that the Ukrainian troops would not be allowed to come close.

Nikitin said in an interview with Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda that the separatists can defend themselves for a long time as they are currently preparing hideouts and underground trenches along with storing water for their needs.

The Ukrainian authorities in Kiev have been launching assaults against pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine since April.

The situation escalated in Ukraine when former president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in February, and the autonomous peninsula in a referendum decided to accede to Russia.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vt


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