A Ukrainian serviceman fires a grenade launcher during fighting with pro-Russia forces, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, March 30, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The Ukrainian military
has announced the death of two of its soldiers in new fighting between government troops and pro-Russia forces in the country’s restive east.
Clashes in the eastern regions of Lugansk and Donetsk on Saturday left two soldiers dead and two others injured, according to a statement released by Ukraine’s army.
The casualties came only a few hours after a new ceasefire between the pro-Russia forces and government troops had taken effect.
The ceasefire was agreed upon at a June 21 meeting of the two warring sides and representatives from Moscow and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE). The truce was intended to allow local farmers to harvest their crops and was scheduled to last until August 31.
The Ukrainian military accused the pro-Russians of firing several rounds at government forces in the eastern regions, while the representatives of the pro-Russia, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic claimed that government forces had violated the ceasefire 10 times.
“All the information on these violations (of the ceasefire)… have been sent to the OSCE,” said Edouard Bassourine, a representative of the pro-Russians, according to Russia’s Interfax news
Conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after people in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for unification with Russia in March 2014. The West brands the development as Moscow’s annexation of the territory. The US and its allies in Europe also accuse Russia of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, an allegation denied by Moscow.
Pro-Russia forces are seen on a tank as they drive along a road near the village of Kirovske in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, in eastern Ukraine, April 21, 2015. (Photo by AFP)
The crisis has left over 10,000 people dead and more than a million others displaced, according to the United Nations.
In September 2014, the government in Kiev and the pro-Russia forces signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in a bid to halt the clashes in Ukraine’s eastern regions. They agreed on 12 points, including pulling back heavy weapons, releasing prisoners, setting up a buffer zone on the Russia-Ukraine border, and allowing access to international observers.
The warring sides also inked another truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, in February 2015 under the supervision of Russia, Germany, and France.
Since then, however, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of violating the ceasefire.