Kiev, Jan 21: Ukraine has accused Russian forces of attacking its soldiers after crossing over into the ex-Soviet state's war-wrecked separatist east in violation of a September truce deal.
The charges - met with initial silence by Moscow - should add further tensions to difficult talks in Berlin today aimed at stemming a spike in fighting that has already killed 4,800 people and driven a million from their homes. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, on a visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum, planned to cut short his trip due to the "worsening situation" in his country's rebel-held east, his spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko said.
"In violation of all prior agreements, Ukrainian military units were attacked in the north (of the war zone) by regular units of the Russian armed forces," Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told a hastily convened press conference in Kiev.
The claim came only hours after Moscow called "absolute nonsense" an allegation by Kiev that about 700 new Russian soldiers had crossed over into eastern Ukraine to help the insurgents' latest advance on government troops. B
lasts of incoming and outgoing artillery echoed all night across the rebels' main stronghold of Donetsk -- a once bustling industrial hub now the crucible of one of Europe's worst humanitarian and diplomatic crises since the Cold War. Rebel city administration member Ivan Prikhodko said two civilians were killed and eight were seriously wounded when a shell hit a bus stop on the northwestern edge of town.
"The bus stop itself and a store nearby have been levelled," Prikhodko told AFP by telephone. Two top Western diplomats in Kiev said they believed the pro-Russian militias had made significant progress on the ground in recent days.
One of them added on condition of anonymity that the gunmen appear to be trying to undermine European peace efforts in order to win more ground before a final partition agreement is reached.