Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
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(CNN) - A separatist leader declared Monday that eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region was not only independent, but also would ask to join Russia - a day after referendum organizers claim voters in the region chose to break away from Kiev.
Denis Pushilin, self-declared leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, told a crowd that no further referendum was needed to ask Russia to annex it.
Pro-Russian separatists held a referendum Sunday asking residents of the Donetsk region whether it should declare independence from Ukraine. Nearly 90% of voters in the area favored secession, an election official said Monday.
Slavyansk, Ukraine (CNN) - Violence escalated Friday in southern Ukraine, with pro-Russian separatists reportedly shooting down two Ukrainian helicopters amid deadly clashes.
The deadly fighting came the same day that U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to seek harsher sanctions against Russia if Ukraine doesn't stabilize in time for elections this month.
More than a dozen people were killed and dozens more were wounded in street fighting that pitted pro-Russian separatists against Ukrainian forces and those who support the Kiev government.
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Kiev, Ukraine (CNN) - Protesters stoked fires along barricade lines as night fell Wednesday over Kiev's Maidan, or Independence Square, a day after 26 people died in violent clashes that have drawn reproach from Western leaders.
An opposition leader said the situation was precarious, but despite the burning fires and police lines, a strange calm pervaded central Kiev - even as security officials rebranded the protesters as terrorists and announced a nationwide security operation to restore order.