The Ukrainian government in Kiev fired 54 shells of 82 mm and 120 mm caliber at the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the pro-Russian rebels' defence ministry said Wednesday. According to Tass, a Russian news agency, other Russian villages affected include Logvinovo, Spartak and Naberezhnoye.

 A kindergarten in Yasnoye, Russia, was also targeted, and a ministry official was quoted saying that the kindergarten, “occasionally...has come under fire over the past eight months, and Ukraine’s forces are destroying it to the ground step-by-step." Fifteen residential buildings in Dokuchayevsk, Ukraine, were targeted and destroyed as well.

"The intensity of shellings [from] the Ukrainian side over the past 24 hours reached 10 violations of the ceasefire regime," a ministry official was quoted by the insurgents' news agency. On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the Ukrainian military is claiming Russian-backed rebels conducting long-range artillery attacks on villages in the east have killed one of its servicemen and left 12 wounded.

"Enemy shelling of populated places [that] are at a significant distance from the line of contact has been noticed," Kiev’s military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at a regular briefing. Despite a ceasefire agreed upon in February, fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels has killed more than 6,400 people in eastern Ukraine, The Guardian reports.

In response, the European Union has extended economic sanctions against Russia until January in an attempt to keep pressure on Moscow over the conflict in eastern Ukraine.  The decision was taken without debate at a meeting in Luxembourg in response to, “Russia’s destabilizing role in eastern Ukraine,” according to an EU statement released Monday.

The decision to extend economic sanctions against Russia drew a rebuke and warning of retaliation from Russian officials, according to The Guardian. Both sides accuse each other of regularly violating the ceasefire, but the spike in violence over the past few weeks has caused international monitors to warn of a threat of wider escalation.