Activists of the Ukrainian nationalist parties hold torches as they take part in a procession to mark the Day of Ukrainian Cossacks to honour the role of the movement in Ukraine's history, in Kiev, October 14, 2014
Ukraine's military said Thursday that three soldiers died in fighting with pro-Russian rebels over the past 24 hours, the latest clashes rocking a fragile ceasefire in the country's east.
"Three Ukrainian soldiers died in shooting over the last day," military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists, adding that nine more servicemen had been wounded.
He said pro-Moscow separatists have been increasingly active in southern Donetsk region, where seven civilians died this week on the outskirts of government-controlled city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea coast.
Lysenko also said that despite an order by President Vladimir Putin at the weekend for 17,600 Russian troops along the border to return to base, Kiev has not observed a significant pullback.
"We don't have information regarding the return to their regular locations of the large number of Russian soldiers near the border," he said.
"There has been some movement..., but we have not seen a pullback."
Putin made the announcement ahead of high-level talks on the Ukraine crisis Friday in Milan, where he will meet Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko along with several European heads of state.
The talks will address implementation of a ceasefire Kiev struck with the pro-Russian rebels in the east on September 5, which however has proven ineffective in stopping bloodshed in a six-month conflict that hs already killed over 3,600 people.