SLAVIANSK, Ukraine - Pro-Russian separatists who said they were part of a new "Donetsk People's Republic" in eastern Ukraine appealed on Monday for Russian President Vladimir Putin to help defend them against Ukrainian government forces.

Speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of the city administration of Slaviansk, a separatist leader asked Putin "to personally direct your attention to the unfolding situation and help us as much as you can."

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