The clashes, the first since the Ukrainian president ordered the resumption of operations against the rebels, raise concerns of a Russian intervention.
Up to five pro-Russian separatists were killed in an operation against rebels in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine’s Internior Ministry said Thursday.
A Ministry statement said that “up to five terrorists were eliminated” as Ukrainian forces removed three rebel checkpoints in the separatist-held city of Slavyansk, Reuters reports. The statement said one member of the government’s forces was wounded in the fighting.
However, a rebel spokesperson said earlier that only two fighters were killed in the clashes.
The deaths are the first since interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov ordered Tuesday the resumption of operations against separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened unspecified consequences as the result of those renewed operations. Russian soldiers amassed on the Ukrainian border conducted military exercises Thursday.
International parties agreed last week to a joint roadmap to ease tensions in eastern Ukraine. However, pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have so far defied the agreement’s stipulation that they disarm. U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday Russia was failing to live up to “the spirit or the letter” of the agreement.