Europe

Ukraine Says Soldier Killed in Separatist Attack

Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists.

A Ukrainian soldier has been killed in the conflict-ridden east of the country in the latest attack launched from territory held by pro-Russian separatists, Kiev said Thursday.

It was the third war death over the past five days.

The Ukrainian army is locked in a simmering conflict with breakaway fighters in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that erupted after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

“As a result of enemy fire, one serviceman of the Joint Forces was killed,” Ukraine’s military said in a statement.

The statement said the separatists had launched three attacks on its troops with cannons, grenade launchers and machine guns.

Ukraine accuses the separatists of shelling with mortars and attacking with other large-caliber weapons almost on a daily basis, in breach of a ceasefire brokered last year.

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is deploying hundreds of observers there, said on Wednesday that “the security situation” in the conflict area was “volatile.”

“Of special concern is the high number of civilian casualties by shelling and shooting, which in September 2021 reached the highest number since July 2020 ceasefire measures,” it said in a statement without providing further details.

After an uptick in violence at the beginning of the year, Russia amassed around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in April, raising fears of a major escalation in the conflict.

Russia later announced a pullback but both Ukraine and its ally the United States said the withdrawal was limited.

The conflict, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives, has seen at least 56 Ukrainian soldiers killed since the start of the year compared with 50 in all of 2020.

The separatists say some 40 of their fighters have died.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists, which Moscow denies.

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