Ukraine insurgency
Ukrainian troops are pictured near the eastern Ukrainian town of SeverskReuters

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has called on the European Union to take tough new measures against Russia over its role in an insurgency that continues to disrupt eastern Ukraine.

Leaders from the European Union will meet in Brussels on Wednesday where they are expected to approve new sanctions against Russia in light of the ongoing Ukraine crisis. In a statement on his website, Poroshenko said he had spoken with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, in the wake of increasingly bloody battles in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev has alleged that Russia was involved in an air strike in a civilian area and the shooting down of a military transport plane.

The men discussed Poroshenko's concerns regarding fighters, arms and heavy military equipment crossing the Russia-Ukraine border, according to the statement, which urged the EU leaders "to demonstrate a strong position of action by the European Union to support Ukraine."

The EU and the United States have passed a raft of economic sanctions against individuals and companies with links to the Kremlin but have stopped short of imposing sanctions on the wider Russian economy.

The US is keen to pursue far-reaching 'secotral' sanctions against Moscow while European leaders have been careful not to ruin strong economic ties with Russia. Moreover, the EU relies on Russia for around a third of its annual gas needs.

Eastern Ukraine has been in turmoil since Ukraine's former pro-Russian president was ousted by pro-European protests that began in Kiev and spread throughout the country.

After losing a key ally in Kiev, Russia swiftly annexed the Crimea peninsula from its neighbour and stands accused of backing a separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

For its part, Moscow denies allowing fighters and weapons across its border and has accused Ukraine of firing a shell into a Russian town last Sunday, killing a man.

A total of 258 Ukrainian service personnel have been killed since Kiev launched operations to regain control of the eastern region, while more than 1,000 have been injured in the conflict, the country's military says.