A Ukrainian soldier has returned home after being kidnapped by pro-Russian separatists who he says cut his hand off because of his "Glory to Ukraine" tattoo.

On 24 August, 19-year-old Aidar Battalion soldier Vasyl Pelysh was caught in an enemy tank ambush in the town of Novosvetlovka near the rebel-held city of Luhansk, eastern Ukraine as he attempted to drive a wounded comrade to safety.

"I went in that direction expecting to find our position. They tricked me," he said.

Pelysh was then taken into captivity for a month where he had his hand amputated by the rebels and was kept alive in a hospital before being released in a negotiated prisoner exchange.

Video footage published by Ukraine's Channel 5 shows crowds gathered in Pelysh's hometown of Lviv to welcome him home. As the prisoner of war steps out of the returning car, he is greeted by his mother and well-wishers.

He spoke of the separatists hatred for the "Aidar" battalion of which he was a part and spoke of his desire to kill his kidnappers.

"I wish I at least had had a grenade in my possession so that I could have destroyed them with me. I started yelling for Aidar, but instead they came after me with automatic rifles, demanding my identity. I told them, Aidar, and they replied they have others like me."

Pelysh was incredibly lucky to survive following the cutting off of his hand, and was only kept alive by doctors in the rebel-held areas.

"When they took me under guard to the hospital, the medics couldn't believe that I was still alive, because they know how much hatred there is for the battalion. We have been very successful against the terrorists and prevent them from staging military actions."

A three-week ceasefire is on the edge of breaking as Russian-backed separatists launched an offensive on the airport held by Kiev's forces in Donetsk while four people were this week killed at a school in Donetsk by a shell and six died in a strike on a minibus.