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Another Donetsk insurgent leader, Denis Pushilin, also said up to 100 people have been killed and asserted that up to half of them could be civilians, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Pushilin said government snipers were firing at people trying to evacuate the bodies. His comments also couldn't be independently confirmed.

Early Tuesday, unidentified men stormed Donetsk's main ice hockey arena and set it ablaze, according to the mayor's office. The arena, owned by a local Ukrainian lawmaker, was to host the 2015 world championships.

By Tuesday morning, the Donetsk airport was under full government control, Ukraine's acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said, adding that dozens of insurgents may have been killed but government forces did not suffer any casualties.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, meanwhile, said it had lost contact with one of its four-man monitoring teams in Donetsk on Monday evening. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but rebel groups have previously kidnapped OSCE monitors in Ukraine.

In the neighboring Luhansk region, which like Donetsk has declared independence from the central government, the Ukrainian Border Guards Service said its officers repelled a group of gunmen who were trying to break through the border from Russia. It said one intruder was wounded and the border guards seized several vehicles loaded with Kalashnikov assault rifles, rocket grenade launchers and explosives.


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The interim government in Kiev has pledged to press ahead with the operation against insurgents, which has angered residents, many of whom see the government as nationalists bent on repressing Russian speakers in the east.

Speaking at a televised government session on Tuesday, Vitaly Yarema, a deputy prime minister, said the "anti-terrorist operation" in eastern Ukraine will go on "until all the militants are annihilated."

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced strong concern Tuesday about the decision to intensify the military operation in the east and called for an immediate end to fighting.

Lavrov warned Poroshenko against trying to win a quick military victory before his inauguration, saying that it would be "unlikely to create favorable conditions for a hospitable welcome in the Donetsk region." He promised that Russia will be Poroshenko's "serious and reliable partner" if he moved to negotiate an end to hostilities.

Poroshenko, known for his pragmatism, supports building strong ties with Europe but also has stressed the importance of mending relations with Moscow. Upon claiming victory, he said his first step as president would be to visit the troubled east. He said he hoped Russia would support his efforts to bring stability and that he wanted to hold talks with Moscow.

Lavrov welcomed Poroshenko's promise to negotiate with people in the east and said Moscow was ready for direct talks with Poroshenko -- without the United States or the European Union as mediators.

But Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine has no intention of talking to Russia directly.

"The government's stance is unchanged: bilateral talks without the presence of the United States and the European Union do not seem possible under current conditions," he said.

Moscow has denied accusations by the authorities in Kiev and the West that it has fomented the insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in March but has stonewalled the eastern insurgents' appeal to join Russia.

Russia, however, has kept pushing for Ukraine to decentralize its government, which would give more power to the regions and allow Moscow to keep eastern Ukraine in its sphere of influence.

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Nataliya Vasilyeva and Laura Mills in Kiev, Ukraine and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.