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Two Ukraine soldiers die in clashes with separatists

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A militant of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) points a weapon at fighting positions on the line of separation from the Ukrainian armed forces south of the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

 

Two Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 10 others wounded in the country’s war-torn east as clashes tick back up, the army said on Sunday.

Over the past 24 hours, pro-Russian separatists fired at Ukrainian positions using large-calibre artillery, grenade launchers and drones, the military said in a statement. Most of the attacks took place in the eastern Donetsk region, it said.

“As a result of enemy fire, two members of the Joint Forces were killed,” the Ukrainian military said. “There are no victims among the local population.”

The Ukrainian army is locked in a conflict with breakaway fighters in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that erupted after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Kyiv says at least 52 Ukrainian troops have been killed since the start of the year, compared with a total of 50 the previous year.

The separatists say they have lost more than 30 soldiers since the start of the year.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms to support the separatists, which Moscow denies.

‘Apocalyptic’

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was conceivable that an “all-out war” with Russia could break out.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, has dismissed the comment as “apocalyptic”.

Russia and Belarus launched military drills involving 200,000 personnel on Friday, one of the country’s biggest drills in recent years.

In April, Russia amassed about 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, raising fears of a major escalation in the protracted conflict. Moscow later announced a pullback.

AFP

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