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Fighting rages near New York as government forces battle breakaway militia... but US thanks Ukraine for naming town in its honor

Fighting rages near New York as government forces battle breakaway militia... but US thanks Ukraine for naming town in its honor
With its decaying industrial landscape and ever-present risk of violence, New York isn’t a place many people would choose to live. But this is Eastern Europe, not the Upper East Side, in a newly renamed town on the front line.

On Thursday, Ukrainian MPs voted through proposals to rename the Donbass region village of Novogorodskoye in honor of the East Coast American metropolis. It is located just seven kilometers from the fractious frontier where Kiev’s forces are facing off against troops loyal to the self-proclaimed breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic. Shelling, drone strikes, and gunfire have been escalating in the region in recent weeks.

According to officials, the settlement had historically been known as ‘New York’, and was located in what was then the ‘Stalin region’ of the country, in honor of the Soviet leader. However, the strange combination of names was scrapped in 1951, in favor of Novogorodskoye.

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Now though, Kiev’s lawmakers are once again looking Westwards for inspiration, and the campaign to have the former title reinstalled appears to have succeeded. Both local and national leaders reportedly backed the decision.

Speaking on Friday, in the wake of the vote, the US Embassy in Kiev said “congratulations to the residents of New York in the Donetsk region on returning the historical name of their city.” The diplomats added they were “big fans” of the move. However, Renat Kuzmin, an MP from the country’s main opposition party, Opposition Platform – For Life, said that it would be only fair to rename a further three villages as Moscow, Berlin, and Paris, in honor of the nations involved in efforts to bring peace to the troubled east of the country.

During a televised question and answer session earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky of becoming overly dependent on American political influence, and playing down the prospects of a summit between the two leaders. “Why should I meet Zelensky?” Putin asked. “If he has given up his country to full external control, the key issues about life in Ukraine are resolved not in Kiev but in Washington, and, to some extent, in Berlin and Paris. What then would we talk about?”

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