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Feb 20, 12:03 PM EST

Ukraine's president signs bill on Russia-backed regions


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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a bill aimed at reintegrating the territory in the country's east controlled by Russia-backed separatists.

The bill passed last month designates the areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions as "temporarily occupied" by "aggressor country" Russia. It envisages the use of military force to get them back under Ukraine's control.

The conflict in the east erupted after Russia's annexation of Crimea and has killed more than 10,000 since April 2014. A 2015 peace agreement signed in Minsk has helped reduce hostilities, but clashes continue.

The bill signed Tuesday contains no reference to the Minsk deal brokered by France and Germany that obliged Ukraine to pass legislation offering broad autonomy to the separatist regions and amnesty to rebels. Most Ukrainian political forces reject that.

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