Ukraine and Russia blamed each other Tuesday for a surge in fighting in eastern Ukraine in recent days that has led to the highest casualty toll in weeks and cut off power and water to thousands of civilians on the front line.
The Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists accuse each other of launching offensives in the government-held industrial town of Avdiivka and firing heavy artillery in defiance of the two-year-old Minsk cease-fire deal.
Eight Ukrainian troops have been killed and 26 wounded since fighting intensified Sunday — the heaviest losses for the military since mid-December, according to government figures.
The peace deal was agreed in February 2015, but international security monitors report cease-fire violations on a daily basis, including regular gun and mortar fire.
Meanwhile, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Ukrainian government troops had launched deadly offensives on rebel positions and warned that the region was "on the verge of humanitarian and ecological catastrophe."