“At 0930 the enemy began an assault on [Ukrainian] forces deployed in Shirokino, [and] clashes are continuing as of now,” the defense headquarters wrote just before midday.

“According to recent reports, the Ukrainian forces are holding their positions. The enemy attacked with mortars and small arms.”

The headquarters said the situation was under control, and that there was no danger to the city of Mariupol – which the militants have named as a key target for further advances.

The press center of the government’s Anti-Terrorist Organization told UNIAN earlier that last night gunmen attacked the positions of the Ukrainian armed forces 16 times, in some places using heavy artillery.