UK & World News
Ukraine Rebels 'Willing To Accept Ceasefire'
A rebel leader in Donetsk says the Ukrainian city is surrounded by government troops and pro-Russian forces are willing to accept a ceasefire.
Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the so-called prime minister of the separatists in the region, said the fighters were calling for the move to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
In a statement, he said: "We are ready for a ceasefireáto prevent the proliferation of a humanitarian disaster in Donbass.
"In the event of a storm of the city the number of victims will increase by magnitude.
"We have no humanitarian corridors. There is no supply of medicines... food supplies are nearing their end."
Russian Foreign Minister SergeiáLavrov also called for an "urgent humanitarian mission" in eastern Ukraine and said US Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed "such work is being carried out with Kiev authorities", Reuters news agency reported.
It comes as Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama agreed any humanitarian mission by Russia into Ukraine would be "unjustified and illegal" during a telephone call on Saturday.
Russia, which the Ukrainian government and the West has claimed is supporting the rebels, has repeatedly called for a humanitarian mission into the east of Ukraine.
But the Moscow government has been accused of using it as a pretext for moving troops into the country.
The claim by Mr Zakharchenko could increase international pressure to allow a Russian mission to take place.
A Downing Street statement said: "On Ukraine, both expressed grave concern about reports that Russian military vehicles have crossed the border into Ukraine and that Russian armed forces are exercising for a 'humanitarian intervention'.
"The Prime Minister and President are absolutely clear that such a so-called humanitarian mission would be unjustified and illegal."
Both leaders have also said tougher sanctions should be imposed on Russia if it sends troops into Ukraine.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, head of Nato, called this week for Russia to pull its troops back from the Ukrainian border. He added that Moscow had amassed around 20,000 troops on the border.
Russia has denied allegations it attempted to send a convoy, including troops and military hardware, towards the border with eastern Ukraine under the guise of a humanitarian mission.
Valeriy Chalyi, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, claimed Ukraine had blocked the move on Saturday.
At least one person was killed and 18 wounded after artillery fire hit apartment blocks in Donetskáduring clashes.
Some 300,000 people have fled the city to escape the conflict.
The Ukrainian government has not responded to the rebel statement.