Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed readiness to fight back if there are more casualties in eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian armed forces have clashed on and off in recent weeks, causing fatalities.
Zelenskyy visited the frontline on Thursday. He said that the military is doing everything possible to defend Ukraine and to hold a ceasefire, but when soldiers are attacked and when there are casualties, it is clear to everyone that the army will respond.
The Deputy Chief of Staff of Russia's Presidential Executive Office, Dmitry Kozak, warned on Thursday that an escalation would be "the beginning of the end of Ukraine."
Pro-Western government troops and pro-Russian armed forces have been fighting in eastern Ukraine for the past seven years. At the end of 2019, the two countries reached a ceasefire agreement, but more than 20 people have been killed in sporadic clashes in Ukraine this year.
The administration of President Joe Biden has made it clear that the US backs Ukraine. Media reports say that Russia has been amassing troops near the border with Ukraine since March in response. There are growing concerns about a further escalation of the conflict.