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In photos: Violence escalates as Ukraine moves on Slavyansk

Ukraine launched a major assault against pro-Russian forces who have seized government buildings in a city that has become the focus of the country's eastern insurgency

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A pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint near the town of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine May 2, 2014. Ukraine launched a “large-scale operation” to retake the town, pro-Russian separatists there said on Friday, in an escalation of violence in what has become the worst confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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A Ukrainian military helicopter flies near a Ukrainian checkpoint near Slavyansk. The Ukrainian Security Service said two of their helicopters were shot down in Friday’s fighting, killing both pilots.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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Civilians talk with Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint near Slavyansk. The Ukrainians’ confrontation with pro-Russian separatists left three people dead in early fighting, two Ukrainian pilots and one insurgent.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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A pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint as tires burn behind him in Slavyansk. The Kiev government’s military action in the town came a day after Russian President Putin said Ukraine should withdraw its military from the country’s east and south.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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Civilians talk with Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint near Slavyansk, a city 160 kilometres west of Russia that has become the focus of the pro-Russian insurgency in Ukraine’s east.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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A woman pushes a bicycle as pro-Russian rebels stand guard at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, south of Slavyansk, on May 2, 2014.

MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

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A pro-Russian rebel eats cherries from a bottle at a checkpoint near a Ukrainian airbase in Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine, on May 2, 2014.

MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

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A boy with a toy gun walks in front of seized regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, on May 2, 2014. Pro-Russian insurgents have seized government buildings in Luhansk.

VASILY FEDOSENKO/REUTERS

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Pro-Russian activists stand at the entrance of seized regional government headquarters in Luhansk on May 2, 2014.

VASILY FEDOSENKO/REUTERS

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