Thousands Flee Ukraine for Russia; Truce Nears End

IZVARYNE, Ukraine (AP) -

As a shaky cease-fire in the east entered its final hours Thursday, thousands of Ukrainians in cars stuffed with belongings lined up at the border to cross into Russia.

Russia says tens of thousands of Ukrainians have come in the 2 1/2 months since Ukraine’s government began fighting separatists in the east.

Air strikes and artillery attacks by the Ukrainian military have infuriated many residents, and many crossing the border on Thursday said they were fleeing the fighting, which has killed over 400 people since mid-April by a U.N. estimate.

With the cease-fire set to expire Friday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on Russia to back his peace plan “with deeds, not words.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said they, too, were looking for more action from Moscow ahead of a summit on Friday of EU leaders, who will be considering a new round of sanctions against Russia.

The summit also will see Ukraine sign a sweeping trade agreement with the EU that will bind it more closely to the West.