The United States is mulling over supplying Ukrainian forces with defensive weapons and equipment as tensions have escalated in the region after peace talks aimed at ending the fight in eastern Ukraine failed on Saturday.
Fighting raged in the volatile eastern region of the country on Sunday as pro-Russian separatists reportedly used artillery fire while tring to overrun government forces from a strategic rail hub.
Hopes of easing tensions in the region were shattered last weekend after the so called "peace talks" ended with Ukrainian as well as pro-Russian separatist representatives blaming each other for foiling diplomatic solution.
"Fighting continues across all sections of the front-line," Kiev military spokesman Volodymyr Polyovy said in a news briefing, Reuters reports. He added that at least 13 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the past 24 hours. Media reports cited other Ukrainian authorities as saying that more than 13 civilians have also been killed in the attacks.
With tensions rising between the pro-Moscow separatists and Kiev, the New York Times quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State John Kerry and US Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey were discussing the possibility of arming Ukrainian soldiers with strategic weapons.
The paper also said that NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove had showed signs of agreeing to provide such lethal aid to the Ukrainian side – a fact that is likely to summon another round of angry reaction from the Kremlin.
The revelation also comes after US President Barack Obama, last week, raised concerns over renewed tensions in the region in the face of the rebel offensive that sabotaged a truce between the two sides in eastern Ukraine that lasted for five months.
Kerry will visit Kiev on Thursday for a dialogue with President Petro Poroshenko, and senior US officials will issue an independent report on Monday urging the Obama administration to send $3 billion in defensive arms and equipment to Ukraine, The Times reported adding that the recommended arms would include anti-armour missiles and reconnaissance drones.