Six Ukrainian soldiers die amid upsurge in hostilities
Ukraine suffered one of its worst recent daily losses of soldiers killed in action on Tuesday amid an upsurge in fighting in the Donbas conflict zone, according to the Ukrainian military.
Six Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Tuesday, the press service of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation Headquarters said on Wednesday.
An armored personnel carrier of the Ukrainian military was attacked near Horlivka in an ambush by the militants of Donetsk People’s Republic, the press service said. Two soldiers were reported killed and four wounded as a result of the clashes, Ukrainian newspaper LB.ua reported.
On the same day in Avdiivka, Ukrainian soldiers from the First Battalion of the 95th Brigade set off a landmine. The explosion killed four soldiers.
According to reports from the Ukrainian military and the OSCE – the organization charged with monitoring a ceasefire that was supposed to have come into effect on February 15 – there has been a large increase of ceasefire violations in the Donbas conflict zone.
Ukraine’s military has said the fighting has returned to a level of intensity not seen since the last ceasefire was agreed in talks in Minsk on February 12.
There are growing fears in Ukraine that the Russian-backed militants who have seized control in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions may launch another offensive soon to take more ground.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on April 30 that there were indications the militants might start their long-threatened offensive in mid-May. The militants have threatened to extend the area they control to the whole of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and even beyond.
The militants said they might launch an offensive if Kyiv does not stick to the commitments it made in Minsk during the latest peace talks on February 12. Both the leaders of the militant organizations and Russia have in recent days repeatedly accused Kyiv of not observing the Minsk deal.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department has accused Russia of training and arming the militants, and has made a subtle change to its diplomatic language to acknowledge Russia’s direct role in the conflict, now referring to the militants as “combined Russian-separatist forces.”