Ukraine’s military said it killed as many as 200 rebels in an attack in Donetsk, inflicting the biggest blow from either side in the conflict in more than two months and removing pretense that a Sept. 5 truce is holding.

Accusing Russia of sending dozens of tanks and other military vehicles across its border yesterday into separatist-held areas in eastern Ukraine, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukraine’s army was preparing for “an adequate reaction.” Lysenko said artillery strikes had killed the rebels and destroyed tanks and other armored vehicles after Ukrainian forces took fire at the Donetsk airport, where they have faced almost daily attacks.

Rising tension between the former Soviet republics is threatening to escalate back into the open separatist war that broke out after the February ouster of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych and Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine a month later.

“Both sides seem to be shaping up, readying now for further conflict,” Tim Ash, chief economist for emerging markets at Standard Bank Group Ltd., said in an e-mail. “Not seeing much on the diplomatic front in terms of de-escalation.”

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