One Ukrainian soldier was killed and two were injured in two separate clashes with Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s war-torn east, its military said Monday, further testing a ceasefire brokered last year.
Ukraine has been fighting separatists backed by Russia in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014 following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula.
The conflict has seen an uptick in violence this month, with three Ukrainian soldiers killed in a mine blast and two others killed in clashes with separatists.
On Monday Ukraine’s Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Ruslan Khomchak said that soldiers had come under fire near the city of Avdiivka, just six kilometers (3.7 miles) north of Donetsk, the separatists’ de facto capital.
“One soldier was killed and one injured after the enemy shot twice from an anti-tank grenade launcher,” Khomchak told journalists.
In a separate incident Monday, another soldier received shrapnel wounds from grenade launchers and machine gun fire near the village of Pivdenne in the Donetsk region, the military said on Facebook.
The fierce fighting that erupted after Moscow’s takeover of Crimea has claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the United Nations, but the number of new fatalities has been decreasing in recent years.
Russia denies sending troops and arms to support the separatists.
The conflict was at the center of a diplomatic spat at the United Nations on Thursday when Western countries claimed that Russia was blocking efforts to end the fighting.