As violence between government forces and pro-Russian rebels has increased, it has been reported that ten people have been killed in the fierce clashes.
According to both military and separatist sources, two soldiers as well as eight civilians have been killed in the past day. The deaths – which occurred in several locations across the east of the country – are thought to be the highest single day death toll in over a month.
The clashes that have occurred near the south-east port of Mariupol and the rebel-held Horlivka, are putting an increasing amount of pressure on an already fragile ceasefire as Ukraine attempt to prepare for its independence day next week.
European Commission spokeswoman, Catherine Ray, told journalists in Brussels: “We really strongly condemn this escalation of fighting and we call all sides to cease it and to observe the ceasefire.”
The upsurge in violence has been deemed “unacceptable” by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, who has said that he is “seriously alarmed” by the “ceasefire violations and the resulting loss of life.”
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has laid blame with Ukraine, accusing the country of increasing their presence in the region. “We are concerned by the course of events in recent days which very strongly resembles the preparation for more military action,” Mr Lavrov said.
Ukraine though blames the rebels and their alleged support in Moscow. In a statement, Ukraine’s foreign minister said: “Ukraine calls on Russia to take immediate measures to stop the escalation of the situation.”
In February, the two sides had agreed to a somewhat fragile ceasefire.
According to the United Nations 6,800 lives have been lost in the conflict since April 2014, and 1.4 million people have been driven from their homes.