Separatists in the town of Horlivka, Donetsk region, launched rockets from Grad launchers towards government army positions in Debaltseve on February 13.

`The separatists are trying to complete their strategic plan before midnight to expand the territory they control, mainly in the direction of Debaltseve,` Reuters quoted Andriy Lysenko, Ukrainian military spokesman, as saying.

Debaltseve is home to a strategic railway line and important intersection connecting Donetsk and Luhansk, two separatist strongholds.

Shelling could be heard from a separatist control point 10km from Debaltseve, a witness said, adding shells were being fired every minute.

Mr. Lysenko accused Russia of continuing to send military equipment and fighters across the border into eastern Ukraine in the past 24 hours to support separatist forces.

`Ukraine’s representative officials and people from the West, especially the United States, showed solidarity with ultra-nationalist views in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) and began to distort the internal

Two people were killed in shelling of central Donetsk, a separatist stronghold, the news agency added.

Leaders of Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine on February 11 met in Minsk, Belarus, discussed the situation in Ukraine and reached a ceasefire agreement after 17 hours of negotiations.

The ceasefire agreement raises hopes of easing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

Tatyana Demchenko, deputy commander of the separatist unit in the town of Horlivka, said she did not have much faith in the ceasefire agreement.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said yesterday that many civilians in the east of the country are still suffering from artillery fire from separatists.

Location of the towns of Debaltseve and Horlivka in eastern Ukraine.