Sniper from Chechen pro-Russian Vostok Battalion in Donetsk, Ukraine.
A sniper from the Chechen pro-Russian Vostok Battalion takes cover near in Donetsk, Ukraine.Reuters

Ukraine's defence minister has declared that pro-government forces will continue its offensive against pro-Russian separatistst.

"Our given task is to bring peace and order to the region," said Colonel General Mykhailo Koval.

He said the military action would continue "until these regions begin to live normally, until there is peace". He also accused Russia of supporting the rebels.

This week 14 Ukrainian soliders, including General Vladimir Kulchtsky, were killed when pro-Russian separatists shot down a military helicopter near the city of Slovyansk.

Elsewhere more than 100 separatists were killed in a battle for Donetsk airport, in the heaviest fighting since the crisis began.

Alexander Borodai, the leader of the Donetsk People's Republic, told the independent Russian TV channel Dozhd (Rain) that the rebels will only negotiate with Kiev if it withdrew troops from Donetsk and Luhansk.

Separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions declared independence in referendums this month, which were rejected by Kiev.

In reaction to the separatist attacks, Ukraine's newly-elected President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to punish the "bandits" behind the unrest.

"These criminal acts of the enemies of the Ukrainian people will not go unpunished," he said.