At least five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in a fresh wave of clashes with pro-Russia forces in the troubled eastern parts of the country, Ukraine’s military says.
“Unfortunately, over the past 24 hours, five Ukrainian soldiers have died and four more have been wounded,” said military spokesman, Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, on Sunday.
The loss of servicemen lives is the second largest death toll in one day this year for the army. Seven army soldiers were killed and nine others wounded on May 24.
According to Motuzyanyk, Avdiivka and Opytne villages, near Donetsk, were the epicenter of the clashes.
On Saturday, Ukraine said another one of its soldiers had also been killed in similar fighting near the city of Mariupol.
Conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after people in the country’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for reunification with Russia in March 2014. The West brands the development as Moscow’s annexation of the territory. The US and its allies in Europe also accuse Moscow of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine, a charge that Moscow denies.
Ukraine’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations later in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.
The crisis has left over 9,300 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.
In September 2014, the government in Kiev and the pro-Russians signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in a bid to halt the clashes in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
The warring sides also inked another truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, in February 2015 under the supervision of Russia, Germany and France.
Since then, however, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of breaking the ceasefire.