Two Ukrainian servicemen have been killed, and a further three wounded, in clashes with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s restive eastern region, in the past 24 hours.
Two Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and three wounded in fresh separatist attacks in the east, the Ukrainian military said on Monday, adding that a rise in shelling near rebel-held Donetsk suggested the rebels planned to try to push forward.
Separatist officials said there had been no significant attacks on rebel-held territory by Ukrainian forces over the weekend, separatist press service DAN reported.
Both sides accuse the other of regularly violating a ceasefire deal signed in Minsk in February, but a surge in violence in the past few weeks has caused international monitors to warn of a threat of a wider escalation.
“Around Donetsk, particularly near the airport, there is military action practically round-the-clock … The enemy has pulled banned weapons into Donetsk – tanks and high-calibre guns – and is actively using them,” military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said.
“The growing number of attacks shows that rebels have focused on this area in order to advance,” he said at a briefing in which he gave casualty figures in the 24 hours.
The situation near the strategic Kiev-controlled port city of Mariupol in south-east Ukraine was also “extremely tense” on Sunday with rebels using artillery and sniper fire to attack government positions, Lysenko said.