Saturday 24 February 2018

Six soldiers killed in new Ukraine violence

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko
Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko

Aliaksandr Kudrytski

Six Ukrainian soldiers were killed and two wounded in a pair of car explosions yesterday after President Petro Poroshenko vowed to push for international peacekeepers to help secure a truce in the rebel-controlled east.

"If peacekeepers help to come to a political resolution and reintegration of these occupied territories into Ukraine, we have to go this way," Mr Poroshenko said.

Foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France may meet soon to discuss details and timing of the proposed peacekeeping mission, he said.

While fighting has largely subsided in most areas of eastern Ukraine, the government in Kiev and pro-Russian separatists are trading accusations about violations of a February ceasefire.

The sides had conflicting versions of an explosion that killed four Ukrainian troops in a car yesterday. Rebels fired a laser-guided anti-tank missile at a bridge near Shchastya in the Luhansk region yesterday morning, the Interior Ministry said.

The separatist-controlled Luhansk Information Centre said no one fired on the bridge. The explosion was simply a result of the mines detonating as a military vehicle crossed.

Two other Ukrainian soldiers were killed and one wounded in a separate incident after an SUV hit an anti-tank mine near Shyrokyne, in the Mariupol area.

Meanwhile, three government troops were killed and two wounded in Avdiyivka area near Donetsk after their vehicle hit an enemy mine on Saturday.

The rising toll from mines highlights the dangers that remain, even if the truce is generally observed.

The year-long conflict in Ukraine, which began after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, has claimed the lives of at least 6,000 and devastated the country's economy.

Irish Independent

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