Fierce fighting has continued around the strategic hub of Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine in a clear violation of last week’s peace deal reached in Minsk.
Pro-Russian rebels claim to be in control of 80 percent of the town.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged Kyiv to call on its surrounded troops to surrender, saying he hoped safe passage would be granted them…. something Kyiv has treated with cynicism.
The fighting means that both sides have ignored Tuesday’s deadline to begin withdrawing heavy guns from the front line.
Ukrainian government forces say that cannot pull back as long as the rebels continue their advance.
The ferocity of the fighting has heightened concerns in Kyiv that the separatists want to cement their recent gains before peace takes hold.
Observers from the OSCE security group, delegated to monitor the ceasefire which has been observed in some parts say they have been kept out of Debaltseve by the rebels.