After days of relative calm on Ukraine’s ‘eastern front’, the military has suffered its worst losses there, with at least 14 soldiers killed in a dawn attack on a checkpoint.
Heavily-armed militants are said to have stormed the site south of Donetsk, injuring a further 30 or so troops. Ukrainian security sources are blaming pro-Russian separatists.
“It is terrifying to speak of,” said one Ukrainian soldier at the scene.
“Three of my friends have fallen and I can’t even collect their bodies because everyone wants to film them. The commander of the combat unit – half of his head is missing and he was only 27 years old.”
With tensions rising ahead of Sunday’s presidential election, Ukraine has called for an emergency session of the UN Security Council, accusing Russia of involvement in the violence.
Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said Kyiv was ready to submit evidence of what he called Moscow’s attempts “to escalate the conflict” to the Council, of which Russia is a permanent member.
Witnesses say some casualties are in a serious condition.
Moscow, for its part, has accused Kyiv of stepping up military operations in eastern Ukraine and of failing to implement measures aimed at ending the crisis.
Some Russian media sources claim the soldiers at the checkpoint were killed as punishment by fellow Ukrainian troops, for refusing to fire on civilians.