KIEV, June 19 Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian
separatists were locked in a fierce battle in the rebellious
east of the country on Thursday, Ukrainian military sources
The sources said there were reports that tanks had been
deployed by both sides but this could not immediately be
One military source said heavy fighting broke out at around
4 a.m. (0100 gm) near the town of Krasny Liman, which has been
under government control since early this month, and that
separatists in the area appeared to have tried to break through
a cordon of government troops.
"There's a major battle going on which exceeds in terms of
force and scale anything there has been up to now," the military
Dmytro Tymchuk, a military analyst who has good sources in
the military, said separately that fighting had begun when
separatists refused a call for them to lay down their arms in
line with a peace plan outlined by President Petro Poroshenko.
Up to 4,000 separatist fighters could be involved and
armoured vehicles, possibly tanks, were being used by each side,
the military source said.
"The anti-terrorist operation is continuing. There is a
battle going on," government forces spokesman Vladyslav
Asked about the report that 4,000 separatists could be
involved, Seleznyov replied: "Then, there'll be 4,000 coffins".
(Reporting by Lina Kushch in Donetsk and Pavel Polityuk in
Kiev; Writing By Richard Balmforth, Editing by Timothy Heritage)