MOSCOW (dpa) – The Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatists engaged in heavy fighting in the east on Saturday hours before a ceasefire negotiated by European leaders in Minsk earlier this week was due to take effect.
The Ukrainian army said 14 people were killed over the past 24 hours, while separatist leaders reported four deaths.
Both sides confirmed that the fiercest battles were over control of Debaltseve, a strategic town where rebels have besieged government troops in an 11th-hour takeover attempt before the ceasefire takes effect at midnight.
There are doubts that the peace deal agreed after marathon negotations between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France would be successful.
The UN Security Council is expected to hold emergency talks on Ukraine on Sunday to shore up the Minsk ceasefire deal.
The session was called after the submission of a Russian-drafted resolution calling on all parties to implement the measures agreed in Minsk.