KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia is extending military drills near Ukraine’s northern borders after two days of sustained shelling along the contact line between Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

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Ukraine's president appealed for a cease-fire.

The exercises in Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north, originally were set to end on Sunday.

The joint drills brought a sizable contingent of Russian forces to Belarus, and their presence raised concern that they could sweep down to Ukraine's capital in a Russian invasion.

A top European Union official said, “The big question remains: Does the Kremlin want dialogue?”

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