By Thomas Grove and Mark Trevelyan
June 2, 2014
DONETSK Ukraine/MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia accused Ukrainian authorities on Monday of escalating violence against civilians in the rebel-held east of the country, even as it offered Kiev a brief respite in a dispute over billions of dollars' worth of unpaid gas bills.
In the latest fighting, Ukrainian border guards said a pro-Russian militia had attacked one of their posts with automatic weapons and grenade launchers in the early hours, triggering a battle that was still raging many hours later.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Moscow of fuelling the pro-Russian uprising that threatens to break up the former Soviet republic of 45 million people. Russia denies orchestrating the unrest, and says Ukraine's attempts to end it by military force are making the situation worse.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would submit a draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council later on Monday, calling for an immediate end to the violence and the creation of humanitarian corridors to help civilians escape the fighting.
In pointed comments aimed at newly elected Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Lavrov said that Western nations had assured Russia the situation in Ukraine would improve after the May 25 election that brought him to power. Instead of that, he said, "everything is happening in exactly the opposite way".