The European Union has announced the payment of $270m in aid loans to Ukraine, bringing the total to $1.7bn regarding its support of an economy battered by a war against pro-Russian rebels in the east.

Tuesday's transfer are aimed at spurring economic reforms as part of the so-called Association Agreement sealed last year, which was opposed by Russia and sparked the conflict.

"Europe stands together with Ukraine during these difficult times, both politically and financially," said Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU Commissioner for the Euro and Social Dialogue.

Pierre Moscovici, the top EU economy official, said on Tuesday that the loans are meant for vital reforms "to stabilise the Ukrainian economy and create the conditions for sustainable growth".

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian soldier was killed on the frontline in fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the east, the army said on Tuesday. It is the first fatality in nearly a week as shelling rumbles on despite a ceasefire deal.

Andriy Lysenko, an army spokesman, said the incident happened in the village of Pisky near the airport of the key separatist-held city of Donetsk. Another soldier was wounded in the same fight.

Lysenko said "the situation is stable but tense" overall.

The UN says more than 6,100 people have been killed and more than a million displaced in the crisis during the past year.

Source: Agencies