Ukraine on Wednesday confirmed the killing of one of its soldiers in fighting with pro-Moscow separatists, a day before the planned talks between NATO and Russia in Brussels over the clash.
Tensions around Ukraine have skyrocketed in recent months as Washington and Kyiv’s European allies accuse Russia of threatening the former Soviet country with invasion.
Ukraine said the separatists had targeted its military positions in the east of the country on Tuesday with heavy machine guns and small arms.
“One serviceman of the Joint Forces was fatally wounded,” the army said in a statement on Wednesday, adding that its troops had returned fire.
Moscow is accused of massing some 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border.
The Kremlin describes its troop presence as protection against an encroaching West, particularly NATO, and has demanded wide-ranging concessions from Washington and its allies.
An initial round of US-Russia talks in Geneva on Monday aimed at calming tensions on the Ukraine border was inconclusive.