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Ukrainian Troops Begin Offensive Against Separatists

A pro-Russian separatist guards a checkpoint as tires burn behind him near the town of Sloyansk, eastern Ukraine, on May 2. Ukraine launched a "large-scale operation" to retake the eastern town of Slovyansk, 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 / X02483

Civilians talk with Ukrainian troops at a checkpoint near Slovyansk on May 2. The Ukrainian military began its raid on the occupied city of Slovyansk at dawn in what was its most committed attempt to dislodge separatists occupying government buildings across its Russian-speaking, industrial east.

Baz Ratner / X02483

Ukrainian soldiers stand near a checkpoint they seized from pro-Russia separatists near Slovyansk on May 2. Two Ukrainian helicopters were shot down Friday, killing at least two people, both sides said. The separatists claimed their forces shot down a third helicopter and said one of their own fighters had also been killed, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Roman Pilipey / EPA

Ukrainian soldiers surround a tank near a checkpoint they seized from pro-Russia separatists outside Slovyansk on May 2.

Roman Pilipey / EPA

A Pro-Russian gunman holds a weapon as other activists carry a tree trunk to barricades in Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, May 2. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine had extinguished the "final hope" of a U.S.-backed peace deal after its forces launched an offensive on pro-Russia separatists Friday.

Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Ukrainian soldiers stand near a checkpoint they seized from pro-Russia separatists near Slovyansk on May 2.

Roman Pilipey / EPA

Ukrainian soldiers stand near a checkpoint they seized from pro-Russia separatists near Slovyansk on May 2.

Roman Pilipey / EPA

A local holding a religious icon stands next to Ukrainian soldiers at a checkpoint which they seized in the early morning in the village of Andreevka, some 4 miles outside Slovyansk, on May 2.

Vasily Maximov / AFP