Putin orders forces in the Urals on combat alert

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian forces in the central part of the country are on a weeklong combat alert starting today, including an exercise involving airborne troops.

The order by Russian President Vladimir Putin comes a day after Ukraine's president ordered a cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels in the eastern part of his country in a conflict that has left about 300 people dead and displaced over 34,000. The Kremlin has dismissed the cease-fire order.

NATO said earlier this week that Russia has resumed a military build-up on the border with Ukraine where pro-Russian separatists have been fighting government forces for weeks.

State news agencies report the combat alert encompasses the Volga region and the Ural mountains but not western Russia. Some 65,000 troops will take part.

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