|President Poroshenko said there were now 50,000 Ukrainian troops in the east|
President Petro Poroshenko has told MPs the military must prepare to defend against a possible "full-scale invasion" from Russia, amid a surge of violence in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has denied that its military is involved in Ukraine, but Mr Poroshenko said 9,000 of its troops were deployed.
|Clashes involving tanks took place in two areas west of Donetsk on Wednesday|
The outbreak of violence, in the government-held towns of Maryinka and Krasnohorivka, was among the worst in eastern Ukraine since a ceasefire was signed in Minsk in February.
International monitors from the OSCE said that in the hours before and during the fighting around Maryinka a large amount of heavy weapons was spotted moving towards the contact line in rebel-controlled areas.
|Government troops fired shells at rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Donetsk.|
The separatists denied Ukrainian claims that they launched a major offensive in violation of a truce.
The OSCE said that for more than an hour on Wednesday they had tried to contact separatist leaders to halt the fighting, but they were either "unavailable or did not wish" to speak to the monitors.
|Frightened residents of Donetsk flock to bomb shelters, again|
The Kremlin has consistently denied sending serving soldiers across the border, although it has acknowledged that "volunteers" have joined the rebels.
The Kremlin would deny that trees are green and the sky is blue while standing on the edge of a forest on a clear day. Truth has absolutely no value to the Kremlin.
Just days ago the Kremlin passed a bill forbidding the publication of military casualties in 'peace time'. I suggested then that it was in preparation of a major Russian push into the Ukraine. It appears Mr Poroshenko agrees. Indeed, it appears that the push has already begun as Russia took advantage of the Minsk ceasefire agreement to move weapons into restricted areas.
In his annual address to parliament, Mr Poroshenko warned of a "colossal threat" from the rising violence.
"Ukraine's military should be ready for a new offensive by the enemy, as well as a full-scale invasion along the entire border with the Russian Federation," he said. "We must be really prepared for this."
|A market on the outskirts of rebel-held Donetsk |
was shelled as violence surged on Wednesday
Mr Poroshenko said Ukraine had 50,000 troops in the east who were able to defend the country.
What he described as the Kremlin's "plan to sow separatism in south-eastern Ukraine" had failed, he added, and only persisted in areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions because of "Russian bayonets".