SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces moved in and killed at least two pro-Russia insurgents in the country's tumultuous east Thursday, an escalation that prompted new threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an immediate reaction, Russia's defense minister said troops massed near Ukraine's border were starting new military exercises.
The statements by Putin and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sharpened anxiety over the prospect of a Russian military incursion into Ukraine. Russia's foreign minister warned a day earlier that any attack on Russian citizens or interests in eastern Ukraine would bring a strong response.
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