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July 22, 2014

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Divisions appear among Ukraine’s eastern rebels

Updated Thursday, July 10, 2014 | 6:07 a.m.

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Divisions are appearing among the pro-Russia separatists fighting the Ukrainian government.

The head of one influential rebel battalion in eastern Ukraine says he will not submit to the command of the military leader of the separatist insurgency.

Vostok commander Alexander Khodakovsky also said Thursday he would not abandon the rebel-held city of Donetsk even if ordered to do so. No such order has been issued, but rebel troops did flee from their stronghold in Slovyansk last weekend.

In the past two weeks, Ukrainian government troops have halved the amount of territory held by the rebels. Now they are vowing a blockade of Donetsk.

In another sign of deteriorating morale among rebels, several dozen militia fighters in Donetsk abandoned their weapons and fatigues Thursday, telling their superiors they were returning home.