Ukraine has made fresh charges of Russian involvement in its conflict with separatist rebels, suggesting Moscow may have had a role in an air strike on Tuesday that killed 11 people.
The accusations come a day before European Union leaders meet to discuss the crisis, where they might consider adopting fresh sanctions against Russia.
“Tomorrow in Brussels, the heads of state and government will again assess the situation on the ground and, should it be required, adopt necessary decisions,” the bloc’s enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele told the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
In other fighting in the three-and-a-half month conflict with separatists in the Russian-speaking east of Ukraine, government forces said they had lost another six soldiers in attacks on their positions near the border with Russia.
Pushing hard for the EU — Ukraine’s new strategic partner — to take tougher measures against Russia at its Brussels summit on Wednesday, Kiev pointed to the downing of an An-26 military transport plane on Monday and Tuesday’s air strike on the Ukraine town of Snizhne.
The town’s health authorities said 11 people were killed and eight others injured, including a child, in the attack, which hit a residential area of Snizhne, 12 miles from the border with Russia, destroying 12 apartments.
A separatist leader was quoted by Russia’s Interfax news as saying the attack had been the work of a Ukrainian warplane.
But military officials and the foreign ministry said no Ukrainian fighter planes had taken off since Monday because a search and rescue operation was underway in the area for survivors of the downed An-26.
Kiev’s fresh charges follow its accusation on Tuesday that the rocket that downed the An-26 may have been fired from Russian territory.