Putin to Ukraine rebels: postpone secession vote

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By Matt Robinson and Darya Korsunskaya DONETSK, Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin called on pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine to postpone a vote on secession just five days before it was to be held, potentially pulling Ukraine back from the brink of violent dismemberment. It was the first sign the Kremlin leader has given that he would not endorse a referendum planned for Sunday by pro-Russian rebels seeking independence for two provinces in the east, and Russian analysts said they believed the rebels would heed Putin's call to put off the vote. NATO, the Pentagon and the White House all said they had seen no signs of a Russian pull-back from the frontier, where Moscow has massed tens of thousands of troops, proclaiming the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian speakers. But Putin's comment suggested that any Russian military incursion into eastern Ukraine was off the agenda for now.