Fresh clashes in east Ukraine left two soldiers dead Wednesday in a spike in fighting as a key rebel leader announced he planned to create a new “state”.
Kiev said the two servicemen were killed by shelling from Russian-backed rebels some 40km north of the insurgent capital Donetsk, the deadliest daily toll in two weeks.
“The situation in the anti-terrorist operation zone has seriously worsened,” the Ukrainian army said in a statement.
Another four soldiers and two civilians were wounded in mortar fire, it said, accusing rebels of using heavy weapons banned by ceasefire agreements.
The latest flare-up in the conflict that has dragged on for over three years comes after Donetsk rebel chief Alexander Zakharchenko on Tuesday announced plans to create a new “state” to replace Ukraine.
The proposed new country is to be called Malorossiya (Little Russia) — a tsarist-era term for an area covering much of modern day Ukraine — and have its capital in Donetsk.