Ukraine paratroopers carried out military exercises in the Donetsk region, as tensions continue in the east of the country.

Two tanks and more than 20 armoured personnel carries took part in the drill about 70 km northwest of Slaviansk, in what is one of the first sings of military deployment by Kiev's forces since pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in the eastern part of Ukraine

Pro-Russian demonstrators occupying state buildings in eastern Ukrainian cities have defied the deadline set by Kiev's interim administration to lay down their arms, even as Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama held a telephone conversation to resolve the crisis.

The anti-Kiev protesters continued to storm government buildings in the eastern region, stepping up their armed campaign against Ukraine's demands for a referendum.

Western powers have blamed Russia for the unrest, and as part of their strategy to pile more pressure on Moscow, the European Union along with the US are planning to widen the economic sanctions on Russian interests.