Seven Ukrainian troops were killed in overnight fighting in the restive east, an official said Friday, as clashes between government forces and pro-Russia rebels flared ahead of the publication of a presidential peace plan that includes a unilateral cease-fire.
Separatists who want to split from the government in Kiev were operating tanks in the region. An Associated Press reporter saw pro-Russia fighters moving in a column with two tanks and three armored personnel carriers near the town of Yanakiyeve in the separatist Donetsk region.
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Vladislav Seleznev, spokesman for Ukrainian forces in the east, said in addition to the deaths, 30 troops were injured in fighting near the village of Yampil in the Donetsk region. He said 300 rebels were killed, but that could not be immediately verified.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has voiced concern about the Ukrainian military operation against the rebels but has resisted both the rebels' pleas to join Russia and repeated calls from Russian nationalists for Putin to send troops into Ukraine. NATO, however, reported Thursday that Russia was resuming a military buildup at the Ukrainian border.
- The Associated Press