Pro-Russian separatists stand next to tanks on the outskirts of Horlivka,easternUkraiREUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Reuters –Russian President Vladimir Putin will take part in talks on the Ukraine crisis in Minsk on Wednesday, the Kremlin's press service said.

"Russian President V. V. Putin is today leaving for a visit to Minsk, where he will take part in talks in the 'Normandy format'," the Kremlin said in a statement.

The Normandy format refers to a meeting of the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France.

Meanwhile violence continued in east Ukraine.Nineteen Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 78 wounded in rebel attacks near the key railway town of Debaltseve, which government troops are defending, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

 

"In shelling, rocket attacks and military clashes, Ukraine lost 19 soldiers including 17 members of the armed forces and two interior ministry soldiers," the spokesman, Vladyslav Seleznyov, told a briefing.

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