Ukraine reports two soldiers killed in separatists shelling

Ukrainian soldiers moved weapons amid the looming threat of invasion by Russia, in Tarasivka, Ukraine, on Feb 17, 2022. PHOTO: NYTIMES

KYIV (REUTERS) – The Ukrainian military said two soldiers were killed and four wounded in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine on Saturday (Feb 19), where a flare up of violence this week has sparked fears it could be the trigger for Russian military action.

The Ukrainian military said on its Facebook page it had recorded 70 ceasefire violations by separatists since the start of the day compared with 66 cases over the previous 24 hours.

Separatists opened fire on more than 30 settlements along the front line using heavy artillery, which has been prohibited by agreements aimed at cooling the long-running conflict, the military said.

A group of lawmakers and foreign media visiting the conflict zone came under fire and had to be evacuated to a shelter, a spokesman for President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s party said in a separate statement on Saturday.

Separatist officials accused Ukraine on social media site Telegram of shelling separatist-controlled areas and said they had to respond accordingly.

Incidents of shelling across the line dividing government forces and separatists increased sharply this week, in what the Ukrainian government called a provocation. It strongly denied suggestions by Russia that Kyiv could launch an offensive in eastern Ukraine.

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