June 20 - Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists are locked in fierce fighting in the east of Ukraine, as President Petro Poroshenko prepares to unveil peace plan. Sarah Toms reports.
A plume of smoke billows from the town Krasny Liman in the east of Ukraine. Evidence of the heavy fighting between troops and pro-Russian rebels close to the separatist stronghold of Slaviansk. Here in neighbouring Seversk rebels pack up their weapons and roll down the street. The fighting in Krasny Liman erupted when rebels refused to lay down their arms as part of President Petro Poroshenko's plan for peace. As well as a plan to end the rebellion, the new president of Ukraine is also trying to shift the country away from Russia's influence. He's signing a controversial agreement with the EU on 27th June. The same deal his pro-Russian predecessor, Viktor Yanukovich, was overthrown for refusing. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT, PETRO POROSHENKO, SAYING: "That's what we have been waiting for so long, what millions of Ukrainians wished to achieve and what they have been fighting for the last half of the year. And I am sure it will take place the next week." It won't be all roses. Poroshenko also knows he must impress the West and end the fighting. It won't be easy either. Nato says Russia has moved troops back to the Ukrainian border. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL, ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, SAYING: "It is indeed a matter of grave concern. So we call on Russia to stop the flow of weapons and equipment from Russia to separatist groups in eastern Ukraine. We call on Russia to stop the support for pro-Russian armed gangs in eastern Ukraine and in general we call on Russia to stop destabilising the situation in eastern Ukraine and engage in a constructive manner with the political leadership in Kiev." Poroshenko says his peace plan will be unveiled soon. For residents fleeing the fighting in the east it can't come soon enough.