Two soldiers killed as fresh clashes erupt in eastern Ukraine

Two soldiers killed as fresh clashes erupt in eastern Ukraine

Sun Aug 28, 2016 12:41PM

Two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in a fresh wave of fighting between government forces and pro-Russia militants in the east of the country.

The Ukrainian military claimed on Sunday that the two were killed as the pro-Russia militants violated a peace agreement by shelling government-held areas with heavy weaponry including mortars and cannons.

“Over the past 24 hours, as a result of fighting, we lost two of our servicemen while another four soldiers were wounded,” Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said without elaborating on the location where the soldiers had perished.

According to the Minsk II ceasefire agreement, the warring sides in Ukraine are separated through a 30-kilometer-wide (19-mile-wide) buffer zone. Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France agreed on the truce deal in February 2015 in the Belorussian capital in a bid to put an end to the violence which had left more than 9,500 people dead. However, clashes have continued along the buffer zone with the two sides accusing each other of violating the ceasefire.

Tensions escalated this month after Russia accused Ukraine of plotting to invade Crimea, a former Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea which joined Russia after a referendum in 2014. Kiev, which views the results of the Crimea referendum as illegal, has repeatedly accused Russia of having a hand in the militancy in the east. Russia rejects the allegations of direct involvement but says that it will support the ethnic Russian population in the east against the suppression by the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine said last week that three of its soldiers were killed by pro-Russia militants, saying militants launched more than 500 mortar and 300 artillery shells at government positions. Reports said the violence was the worst seen in the separatist east for a year.

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