Fighting flared between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists around the eastern flashpoint city of Slaviansk on Sunday despite a truce extended until Monday night, a deadline also set by EU leaders considering new sanctions against Russia.
The European Union said it could impose more penalties on Moscow on top of existing asset freezes and visa bans unless pro-Russian rebels act to wind down the crisis in the east of the country by Monday.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, under pressure from the West to keep up the ceasefire during talks with the rebels, is facing rising anger over the truce, which some Ukrainians say is only giving the rebels time to regroup and rearm.
Ukraine’s National Guard said rebels had used tanks and mortar shells to fire on a checkpoint near the separatist stronghold of Slaviansk, about 100 km (60 miles) from the border with Russia.
“There were no casualties among the military personnel there,” its statement said. A spokesman for the operation told Channel 5 five soldiers had been killed in the past few days by rebel violence in violation of the truce.
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