(The Independent) The Kremlin said yesterday it was receiving “thousands” of pleas for help from Ukraine, warning that it could not control pro-Russian separatists in the country and now required help to resolve the worsening violence.

As Russian troops continued to conduct exercises near the Ukrainian border and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, demanded the Russian government do more to defuse the situation or risk further economic sanctions, a Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was quoted as saying that Russia had “lost its influence” over separatists in the region.

Speaking in Moscow yesterday, Mr Peskov said: “People are calling in despair, asking for help. The overwhelming majority demand Russian help. All these calls are reported to [President] Vladimir Putin.”

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