Ukraine defiant on national day, rebels parade captives

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Ukraine defiant on national day, rebels parade captives
Captured Ukrainian border guards sit in a garage at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A captured Ukrainian border guard sits in a garage at the Novoazovsk border crossing point, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A pro-Russian rebel listens to the news on a transistor radio in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A camouflaged pro-Russian tank seen in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
An Orthodox church crosses hangs on a chest of a pro-Russian rebel in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A local resident passes by camouflaged pro-Russian tank in the town of Novoazovsk, in eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 29, 2014. In Novoazovsk, pro Russian rebel fighters looked to be in firm control, well-equipped and relaxed. At least half a dozen tanks were seen on roads around the town, although the total number at the rebels’ disposal is believed to be much greater. Novoazovsk fell swiftly to the rebels Wednesday after being pounded by shelling.(AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Ukrainian soldiers ride atop an APC near the village of Sakhanka, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014. Separatist rebels shelled a town of Novoazovsk in southeastern Ukraine on Wednesday, raising fears they are launching a counter-offensive on government-held parts of the region, one day after the leaders of Ukraine and Russia met to discuss the escalating crisis. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Relatives and friends say goodbye to volunteers, their unit's flag on the right, before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion unit fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. It was the second straight day that attacks were reported in the vicinity of Novoazovsk, which is in eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk region but previously had seen little fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A father, a volunteer, holds his little daughter as relatives and friends say good-buy to volunteers before they were sent to the eastern part of Ukraine to join the ranks of special battalion unit fighting against pro-Russian separatists, in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Aug. 26, 2014. It was the second straight day that attacks were reported in the vicinity of Novoazovsk, which is in eastern Ukraine’s separatist Donetsk region but previously had seen little fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners, dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes, board the bus after being marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners, dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes, board the bus after being marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: A woman walks through war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment displayed by pro-Russian separatists when dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: People walk through war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment displayed by pro-Russian separatists when dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: People take photos of war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment displayed by pro-Russian separatists when dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: People walk through war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment displayed by pro-Russian separatists when dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: A pro-Russian waves Donetsk flag on the war-damaged Ukrainian tank displayed by pro-Russian separatists when dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Armed Pro-Russian militants stand guard as captured Ukrainian sodliers board a bus on August 24, 2014 in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, during a parade in mockery of the country's Independence Day celebrations. Pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine paraded dozens of captured soldiers before a jeering crowd on August 24 in a bid to mock Kiev's Independence Day celebrations. In the capital, the Ukrainian government had sought to boost morale and send a defiant message to the rebels with an upbeat military parade to mark the country's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. AFP PHOTO / MAX VETROV (Photo credit should read MAX VETROV/AFP/Getty Images)
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(Reuters) - Ukraine marked its independence day on Sunday with a military march-past in Kiev intended to send a message of defiance to Russia, but pro-Moscow rebels countered by parading captured Ukrainian troops through the streets of their main stronghold.

The rival events highlighted the divide that will have to be bridged if a compromise on Ukraine is to be reached on Tuesday when Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko for the first time in months.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Kiev on Saturday to try to lay the ground-work for a peace deal, said Tuesday's talks were unlikely to produce a breakthrough.
On Independence Square in the Ukrainian capital Kiev -- scene of protests that pushed out a Moscow-backed president in February and precipitated the current crisis -- President Poroshenko reviewed columns of men and armoured vehicles.

Some of the troops in the march-past were shortly heading to the front line in eastern Ukraine, Poroshenko said.

In an emotional speech, he said his country was fighting "a war against external aggression, for Ukraine, for its freedom, for its people, for independence".

"It is clear that in the foreseeable future, unfortunately, a constant military threat will hang over Ukraine. And we need to learn not only to live with this, but also to be always prepared to defend the independence of our country," he said.

Poroshenko announced about $3 billion would be spent on re-equipping the army in 2015-2017. Ukraine's armed forces are only a fraction of the size of those in Russia.

After Ukraine's previous president, Viktor Yanukovich, fled to Russia, Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March and parts of the Russian-speaking east rebelled against Kiev.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Moscow of funnelling weapons and men secretly into eastern Ukraine to shore up the struggling rebellion, a claim Moscow denies. Russia has called for an urgent ceasefire to provide help to trapped civilians.

POWS PARADED

In separatist-held Donetsk, about 100 people introduced over a public address system as Ukrainian prisoners-of-war were marched through the city's central Lenin Square on Sunday.

They looked dirty and unshaven and bowed their heads as they passed. Some had bandaged arms and heads. They were guarded by rebel fighters with guns, their bayonets fixed.

People who came to watch the parade shouted "fascists!" and "murderers!" and some threw bottles at the POWs. Two street-cleaning machines followed the column, spraying water on to the street in a theatrical gesture to indicate the men were unclean.

Earlier on Sunday, artillery shells hit the grounds of one of Donetsk's biggest hospitals. Authorities in Kiev deny targeting civilian areas.

"This is no independence day. This is a plague on our land, the fascists who have taken control of Kiev who are now shooting at hospitals and morgues," said Grigory, 71, at a display of captured military hardware in central Donetsk.

Diplomats say Tuesday's meeting between Putin and Poroshenko in the Belarussian capital Minsk may provide the best chance yet of ending a conflict that has left ties between Moscow and the West at their most toxic since the Cold War and has sparked sanctions that are hurting the Russian and European economies.

The two presidents last met in June in a frosty encounter in Normandy, France, at commemorations to mark the World War Two D-Day landings. They did not shake hands. Since then, the momentum in the conflict has tilted in Ukraine's favour.

With strong Western backing and progress on the battlefield, Kiev is now in a much stronger position. Putin, meanwhile, faces the stark choice of a humiliating defeat for the rebels or giving them direct help and so risking further sanctions that will inflict deeper pain on his economy.

The meeting in Minsk "certainly won't result in a breakthrough," Merkel told Germany's ARD television. "But you have to talk to each other if you want to find solutions."

The European Union's chief diplomat, Catherine Ashton, will be at the meeting to help mediate. On Sunday, Ashton said the meeting provided "an opportunity we should not miss".

FIGHTING

The sound of shelling in Donetsk on Sunday was unusually intense, with rebels saying the Ukrainian troops were trying to score a victory to mark their national day.

Separatist commanders said they were holding off the attacks and were launching their own counter-assaults.

Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the self-proclaimed 'Donetsk People's Republic', said his forces had launched a counter-attack and were fighting to take the town of Olenivka, about 20 km (12 miles) south of Donetsk.

"I don't want to fight, I don't want to kill anyone, but I will fight to the last for my land," he told reporters. "We want to live the way we want to live on our own soil."

The Ukrainian military authorities said they had been making more advances on the battlefield, though the rebel collapse some in Kiev had predicted has not materialised.

Ukraine's border guard service said there had been several rounds of shelling into Ukraine from Russian artillery units, echoing similar allegations made by NATO officials.

Officials in Kiev said 722 people with Ukrainian government forces had died to date, a jump from 568 announced on Aug. 11.

(Additional reporting by Natalia Zinets; and Alessandra Prentice in Kiev, Michael Shields in Vienna, Madeline Chambers in Berlin, Anton Zverev and Maria Tsvetkova in Donetsk, Ukraine, and Polina Devitt in Moscow; Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Gareth Jones)

47 PHOTOS
Soldiers parade for Ukraine Independence Day
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Ukraine defiant on national day, rebels parade captives
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian soldiers pass on the parade during the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People hold a the biggest world Ukrainian flag during celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko decried today, Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian soldiers pass on the parade during the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attends the Independence Day celebrations with his family in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko walks toward the unknown soldier monument with a bunch of red rose during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian military forces parade in Kiev's Independence Square during the ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 24, 2014. (Photo by Mykola Lazarenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko watches the procession of Ukrainian Naval Forces binoculars during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian military forces parade in Kiev's Independence Square during the ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 24, 2014. (Photo by Mykola Lazarenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (L3) and Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov (L2) and Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseny Yatseniuk (R2) visit monuments of crucial people of Ukraine's history and EuroMaidan where people died during the unrest on February and place flowers on the monuments, on 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's Independence Day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Mykhailo Markiv/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (Rear right2) and Chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov (Rear right3) and Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseny Yatseniuk (Rear right) visit monuments of crucial people of Ukraine's history and EuroMaidan where people died during the unrest on February and place flowers on the monuments, on 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's Independence Day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Mykhailo Markiv/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Soldiers and a police wait before the start of celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko lays a bunch of red rose to the unknown soldier monument during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (R) visits monuments of crucial people of Ukraine's history and EuroMaidan where people died during the unrest on February and place flowers on the monuments, on 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's Independence Day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Mykhailo Markiv/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Artists wearing Ukrainian traditional clothes perform on August 24, 2014 after the military parade marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence, in the center of Kiev. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk paraded dozens of imprisoned government soldiers before a crowd of onlookers on August 24 in a bid to mock Kiev's Independence Day celebrations. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Marina Porosenko (C), wife of President of Ukraine Petro Porosenko, and his children watch the parade during the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (front R) speaks during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Maksim Voytenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko poses with the Ukrainian citizens during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
ODESSA, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks with the Ukrainian citizens during the Independence Day celebrations in Odessa, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, Kharkov and in other cities. (Photo by Ukrainian Presidency/Mikhail Palinchak/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: An Ukrainian soldier greets public on the military vehicle on the parade during the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Chairman of Ukrainian Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov (L2) gives a speech on the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day and President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko (R2) and prime minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk (L) listen Turchynov in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko gives a speech on the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day and chairman of Ukrainian Parliament Oleksandr Turchynov (C) and prime minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk (L) listen Poroshenko in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People pose under the world biggest Ukrainian flag during celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko decried today Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KHARKOV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukrainian people visit the area near Metalist Kharkov Stadium where Ukraine's new military vehicles are displayed within the Independence Day celebrations in Kharkov, Ukraine on August 24, 2014. As the operations against pro-Russian separatists keep going on in eastern Ukraine, Independence Day celebrations are held in the capital Kiev, coastal town Odessa and in other cities. (Photo by Sergey Bobok/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: A view of the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Military and armoured vehicles pass on the parade during the celebrations of 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence day in Kiev, Ukraine on 24 August, 2014. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People hold the world biggest Ukrainian flag during celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko decried today Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Girls pose for a picture as people hold the world's biggest Ukrainian flag during the Ukrainian Independence Day celebrations in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold the world biggest Ukrainian flag during celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko decried today Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold the world biggest Ukrainian flag during celebration of Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko decried today Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko waves during the ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 24, 2014. Ukrainian military forces parade and thousands of Ukrainians attended the celebrations in Kiev's Independence Square, known locally as the 'Maidan'. (Photo by Mykola Lazarenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko waves during the ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 24, 2014. Ukrainian military forces parade and thousands of Ukrainians attended the celebrations in Kiev's Independence Square, known locally as the 'Maidan'. (Photo by Mykola Lazarenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
KIEV, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) attends to ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev, Ukraine, on August 24, 2014. Ukrainian military forces parade and thousands of Ukrainians attended the celebrations in Kiev's Independence Square, known locally as the 'Maidan'. (Photo by Mykola Lazarenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Children wearing traditional Ukrainian clothes take part in a parade during the celebrations marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ STR (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Artists wearing Ukrainian traditional clothes perform on August 24, 2014 after the military parade marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence, in the center of Kiev. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk paraded dozens of imprisoned government soldiers before a crowd of onlookers on August 24 in a bid to mock Kiev's Independence Day celebrations. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
People carry a giant flag with colors of the Ukrainian national flag on August 24, 2014 as they march during celebrations to mark the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk paraded dozens of imprisoned government soldiers before a crowd of onlookers on August 24 in a bid to mock Kiev's Independence Day celebrations. AFP PHOTO/. AFP PHOTO/ OLEKSANDR RATUSHNIAK (Photo credit should read ANATOLIY STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian forces parade during a military ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in the center of Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian forces parade during a military ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in the center of Kiev on August 24, 2014. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
People wave a Ukrainian national flag on August 24, 2014 as they attend a military parade marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's Independence, in the center of Kiev. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A boy wearing traditional Ukrainian clothes waves a Ukrainian national flag on August 24, 2014 after a military parade marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's Independence, in the center of Kiev. Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko on August 24 decried Russian 'aggression' as Kiev staged a symbolic Independence Day parade while battling pro-Moscow rebels in the east of the country. AFP PHOTO/ SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Residents of Donetsk gather on Lenin Square, where pro-Russian rebels organized a anti-Kiev parade featuring destroyed Ukrainian military vehicles on August 24, 2014 in Donetsk, Ukraine. In the last few days, several neighborhoods in Donetsk have been hit with sustained artillery fire, with deadly attacks on Wednesday and Saturday, and fighting on the city's outskirts has become more intense. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
DONETSK, UKRAINE - AUGUST 24: Pro-Russian separatists stand guard as dozens of Ukrainian prisoners dressed in ragged military uniforms and civilian clothes are marched past jeering crowds around Lenin Square, the rebel-held city Donetsk on Sunday, August 24, 2014, marking Ukraines Independence Day. The separatists also displayed war-damaged Ukrainian military equipment including tanks and armored personnel carriers. In Ukraine, the celebration of 23 years since Ukraine split from Russia during the collapse of the Soviet Union was marked with a military parade. The fighting in eastern Ukraine, which began in April when the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk announced their intention to split from the rest of Ukraine, has seen around 2,000 civilians killed and more than 330,000 forced out of their homes, according to the United Nations. (Photo by Alexander Ermochenko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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