KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's president ordered the country's forces Tuesday to renew a military operation against pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine after the killing of two men and a shooting at a plane.
President Oleksandr Turchynov said one of the victims was Vladimir Rybak, a city councilor in eastern Ukraine who was a member of the president's political party.
"The terrorists who basically have taken the entire Donetsk region hostage have crossed the line with torturing and killing Ukrainian patriots," Turchynov said.
Turchynov blamed the deaths on Russian forces he says have infiltrated eastern Ukraine to promote unrest as a pretext for an invasion by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The bodies were found near the city of Slovyansk, where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings and demanded a referendum on joining Russia, as happened in the province of Crimea last month.
A Ukrainian military reconnaissance plane took small arms fire and was damaged while flying over the city of Slovyansk.
Ukraine had agreed to suspend a military operation against the militants after Western and Russian diplomats, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, issued a statement last week that all sides should disarm. Turchynov said only the Ukraine government has abided by the truce.
"Both Russia and its terrorist units that are defiantly present in Ukraine haven't implemented the agreements made in Geneva," Turchynov said, referring to the well-armed and masked soldiers at the occupied buildings who may be Russian troops.
Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Ukraine's refusal to break up protests in the capital of Kiev means it has not complied with the Geneva agreement.
Vice President Biden arrived Tuesday in Kiev to show support for the government and to tell Moscow, "It's time to stop talking and start acting."
Standing next to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Biden said Russia must urge pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine to end their takeover of government buildings and "address their grievances politically," rather than with force.
Biden said Russia needs to act "without delay," because "we will not allow this to become an open-ended process."
Pro-Russian Ukrainians in at least eight cities have taken over government offices in an attempt to force a referendum on whether to secede and join Russia. Militants did the same in the Ukrainian province of Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed despite warnings from the White House.
Turchynov told Biden that Russia is using the same playbook in eastern Ukraine as it did in Crimea, infiltrating cities with its special forces to direct militants on how to challenge Ukraine's government.
In eastern Ukraine, militants repeated that they were not a party to the diplomatic talks in Geneva and not bound by them.
"No one will make us vacate this building," said Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, leader of the pro-Russian protesters in Slovyansk, where three pro-Russian protesters were shot and killed over the weekend.
Ukrainians say the Geneva agreement appears to be a farce that means nothing.
"I don't see any chance that the protesters will vacate the buildings and surrender," said Oksana Makarenko, who lives in Donetsk, the center of the troubled eastern region. "They obviously don't recognize the government in Kiev, and there is no way they will obey the agreement that the government participated in signing. The government and international community will have to come up with something else."
Several hundred supporters of the pro-Russian protests attended the funeral of the three civilians who died in an attack on a checkpoint.
Russian state television says the killers were Ukrainian extremists who hate Russians but provided little evidence.
Pro-Russian militants kidnapped the police chief in the eastern city of Kramatorsk, just outside Slovyansk.
Biden said the United States will never recognize Russia's occupation of Crimea. He said the White House will offer Ukraine a $50 million aid package to weather a tough financial situation.
Washington wants the funds to be used for political and economic changes.
Biden said a separate financial aid package due from the International Monetary Fund worth up to $18 billion will soon be finalized.
"The opportunity to generate a united Ukraine and getting it right is within your grasp. And we want to be your partner and friend in the project. We're ready to assist," Biden told the Ukrainian parliament.
Critics of the Obama administration's handling of the Ukraine crisis say Ukraine needs military backing, not financial aid, to survive Russia's threat. John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush, said President Obama should offer a "clear path" for Ukraine to join NATO, the European-U.S. military alliance.
"It makes eminent good sense, and I think that would be an enormous deterrent to Russian adventurism," Bolton told Fox News.
Contributing: The Associated Press