The Ukrainian military has said that one of its soldiers was killed in shelling carried out by pro-Russian separatists on Saturday in east Ukraine, raising fears that the Russian military may be behind the incident.
International news agency Reuters cited witnesses who said they heard numerous explosions north of the separatist-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. The origins of the blasts were not clear nor have the separatist authorities in eastern Ukraine or Kyiv commented on the matter.
Foreign media outlets cited the Ukrainian military as saying on its Facebook page said that it had recorded 19 cease-fire violations by the separatists since Saturday.
It said that separatists had fired on more than 20 settlements, utilizing heavy artillery, which according to the Minsk agreements was prohibited. The Ukrainian government has called the recent attacks a provocation. It has also strongly denied assertions by Russia that Kyiv could launch an offensive in areas held by pro-Russian separatists.
The Minsk Agreement, signed in 2014, was aimed at putting an end to the conflict between the Ukrainian army and separatists in the eastern region of the country. Since 2014, pro-Russian separatists have had control of parts of two of Ukraine’s eastern provinces – Donetsk and Luhansk – bordering Russia. The two provinces are located in the Donbas region, where territories controlled by Russian separatists were declared as independent states – Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic – by pro-Russian separatists.
The separatist leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic has said that he was leading a general mobilization amid mounting fear of war in the country.