Former Vice President Joe Biden will talk to Russian President Vladimir Putin in person on Tuesday in what the Kremlin said was a private discussion regarding the situation in Ukraine.
Biden visited Ukraine on Monday to meet with its current vice president, Oleksandr Turchynov, who is now in charge of the Ukrainian government until the inauguration of acting President Pavlo Klimkin in mid-November.
Turchynov has called for a new round of peace talks after deadly clashes between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk and Lugansk over the past month.
“Talks in Kyiv on the further process of building of Ukraine would probably help to reduce the situation,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday at a press conference.
Turchynov condemned the violence in Donetsk on Tuesday and said the government had supplied reinforcements to combat Ukrainian forces.
“The country’s armed forces is continuing to fight. Our Ukrainian colleagues are making decisive steps to protect the southeast, in an effort to prevent the militants from using forced occupation,” he said, according to state-run press agency RIA Novosti.
Turchynov accused pro-Russian separatists of “expanding its artillery positions near the town of Avdiivka” after the town was rocked with explosions on Monday.
Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed and at least 10 were wounded in the fighting, according to state-run news agency TASS.
The violence continued for a fourth straight day Tuesday as Ukrainian forces clashed with pro-Russian insurgents across the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
A Ukrainian tank rammed into a separatist checkpoint in Donetsk on Tuesday morning, the Kremlin said, then pitched its artillery onto a separatist position a few kilometers away.
At least six separatists were killed in the clashes, according to two residents who said they witnessed the incident from their building across the street. Three Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in the assault, TASS reported.
The shelling came a day after Ukrainian soldiers killed five pro-Russian fighters near Avdiivka in a barrel-clearing operation conducted by Ukrainian soldiers using tanks, according to RIA Novosti.
The fighting appears to be the heaviest in many months in eastern Ukraine, where Russian forces took control of the former city of Luhansk in 2014. The small separatist territories of Donetsk and Lugansk then declared independence from the government in Kyiv, which promptly responded with a military operation that has since left large parts of the region in government hands.
On Tuesday, Biden told the BBC that U.S. sanctions on Russia will likely continue to remain in place.