Kiev says 1,500 Russian soldiers entered Ukraine
The Ukrainian army says convoys of Russian military hardware and at least 1,500 Russian soldiers have crossed the border into Ukraine over the weekend.
“One thousand five hundred Russian soldiers and 300 pieces of military equipment, including Grad missile systems, crossed the Ukraine-Russia border on February 7 and 8,” Ukraine’s military spokesman, Andriy Lysensko, said at a press briefing in the capital, Kiev, on Monday.
He added that some 170 vehicles, including trucks, petrol tankers and cars, have also entered Ukraine.
The remarks come as at least 45 Ukrainian soldiers and 11 pro-Russia fighters have been killed in a fresh round of clashes between the two conflicting sides.
Eduard Basurin, the deputy commander of the headquarters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, said on Sunday that fierce fighting has left 29 others wounded.
Basurin also said the Ukrainian military losses include “11 tanks, eight of which were destroyed and three were captured…nine units of artillery, [and] 11 cars…”
Attempts to revive Minsk peace accord
Meanwhile, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France are slated to convene in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on Wednesday to revive an earlier deal inked between the sides involved in the Ukrainian crisis and tamp down the flare-up of violence in eastern Ukraine.
On September 5, 2014, the representatives of Ukraine, Russia, and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk inked a ceasefire deal in Minsk. However, both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces operating in eastern Ukraine have violated the truce on an almost daily basis.
The two mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations to silence protests there in mid-April 2014.
Violence intensified in May last year after the two flashpoint regions held local referendums in which their residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation.
The fighting has left over 5,300 people dead and more than 12,200 wounded, according to the UN.