Russia steps in after Ukraine cuts power to rebel-held east

In a move that further cements Russia's control over parts of eastern Ukraine, Russian officials announced Tuesday they will begin supplying electricity to separatist-controlled areas after the Ukrainian government cut off power because of a heavy backlog of unpaid bills.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the decision as a humanitarian mission helping to keep an estimated 3 million people out of darkness in rebel-held areas in the Luhansk region along Russia's border. The rebels are backed by Russia.

Ukraine on Monday announced it would stop supplying power because of mounting debts, and power was cut off shortly before midnight.

"Cutting the power supply...