Ukrainian forces launch full-scale attack on pro-Russian separatists as ceasefire ends

Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce which only partially paused the fighting

Ukrainian forces have launched a full-scale military attack against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, just hours after a fragile truce officially ended.

A Defence Ministry spokesman said one service member had been killed and 17 wounded by rebel attacks over the past 24 hours and an Su-25 attack aircraft was damaged. There was no immediate casualty toll from the rebels.

President Petro Poroshenko had earlier ended a unilateral ceasefire vowing: "We will attack, we will free our land."

In a website statement early this morning President Poroshenko, who had already extended the cease-fire from seven to 10 days, said his decision was "a response to terrorists, rebels, looters," and all those he said are "paralyzing the economy of the region." 

The idea of the truce was to give rebels a chance to disarm and to start a broader peace process including an amnesty and new elections, but rebels did not disarm and the ceasefire was continually violated.

Video: Pro-Ukraine activists protests against ceasefire in Kiev

Both sides have accused the other of violating the truce which only partially paused the fighting that has killed more than 400 people since April.

Later on this morning, in a televised address, Poroshenko reiterated that the truce had ended and warned that Ukrainian forces will go on the offensive against the rebels.

"The unique chance to put the peace plan into practice was not realised," Mr Poroshenko said.

"This happened because of the criminal actions of the fighters," he added.

Mr Poroshenko's decision followed four-way talks in search of a solution with Russian president Vladimir Putin, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande as the deadline approached.

He issued a statement after the talks saying the key conditions needed to continue the ceasefire had not been met.

European leaders and the US have urged Russia to use its influence with the rebels to ease the bloodshed and have threatened to impose another round of economic sanctions against Moscow.

While Mr Putin has expressed support for the ceasefire, the West has accused Russia of allowing weapons and fighters to flow across the border into Ukraine.

Mr Poroshenko said he meant for a ceasefire to be followed by an amnesty for fighters not considered to have committed serious crimes, and political concessions such as early local and regional elections, protections for speakers of Russian and, in the longer term, changes to the constitution to decentralise power to the regions.

Additional reporting by AP

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