Russia, Germany, France raise alarm over fighting in Ukraine

The Kremlin says the leaders of Russia, Germany and France have raised the alarm about a recent uptick in fighting in eastern Ukraine.

A statement issued on Tuesday says Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande discussed Ukraine in a telephone call earlier in the day and condemned recent fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The conflict in Ukraine's industrial heartland between Russia-backed separatists and government troops has killed more than 9,500 people since it began in 2014. Despite 2015 peace accords which helped to initially halt the fighting and then lower its intensity, international monitors reported more clashes in the past weeks, some involving heavy weaponry.

The Kremlin statement says the three leaders will meet face-to-face in early September to discuss ways to deal with the crisis.