Ukraine marked its independence day with a military parade in the capital Kiev.
Ukrainian Independence Day in Kiev
© AFP/Scanpix

A message of defiance to neighbouring Russia, which Ukraine says is funnelling weapons to pro-Moscow rebels it's fighting in the east.

The separatists countered with their own march - by parading captured Ukrainian troops through the streets of their main stronghold, Donetsk.

The counter marches come as intense shelling was heard around Donetsk this weekend.

Nearby, government forces exchanged gunfire with rebels in Ilovaisk, a small town where both sides are pitched in fierce street battles for territory.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets his Ukrainian counterpart next week, in what diplomats say is the best chance for peace in months.

But Sunday's rival events highlight the divide that needs to be bridged in those talks, if a compromise on Ukraine is going to be reached.

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