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Ukraine Forces, Russia-Backed Rebels Exchange Fire

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A Ukrainian soldier stands guard as clashes are reported between the Army and Russian-backed separatists. Credit: Ministry of Defense, Ukraine

Ukraine’s Army and Russia-backed rebels have accused each other of opening fire in separate incidents in the eastern part of Ukraine.

Ukrainian defense officials have accused the rebels in Donbas of shelling a village in the Ukraine-controlled area.

“The Russian occupation forces shelled the town of Stanytsia Luhanska in the Luhansk region, crudely violating the ceasefire agreement,” the Ukrainian military officials said in a statement.

As a result of the strike the building of a village kindergarten was hit, with a shell smashing through the wall of a music room.

Village head Albert Zinchenko told BBC News Ukraine three people were injured.

“A security guard, a laundry worker and an assistant nursery school teacher. They are in hospital suffering from shell-shock and stress,” said the mayor.

The mayor added that some children were in the building at the time of the shelling but they escaped unharmed.

Russia-backed rebels accuse Ukraine of shelling settlements

Earlier, Russia-backed separatists in Donbas claimed the Ukrainian military started shelling settlements near the cities of Donetsk and Horlivka.

The assertions were made in a statement issued by representatives of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic. It said Ukrainian forces had used mortars, grenade launchers and a machine gun in four separate incidents.

There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine or from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has been monitoring the situation in eastern Ukraine but has pulled out some of its monitors in recent days.

Such incidents have occurred many times over the last eight years. But any escalation in the years-long conflict between the Russian-backed separatists, who seized a swath of territory in eastern Ukraine in 2014, could further inflame tensions between Russia and the West.

West disputes Russian claims that it is withdrawing forces

On Wednesday the West disputed Russia’s claims that it has withdrawn some of its forces from Ukraine’s border.

Satellite images taken last week show that Russia is at Ukraine’s border with troops and military equipment. Leaders across the world are taking this as a sign that Russia may be preparing to invade the country.

The revelation of the satellite images comes after Russia said that it was willing to hold more talks and that it had withdrawn troops from the Ukrainian border.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg responded by saying that they had not seen “any sign of de-escalation on the ground.”


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