Ukraine: two soldiers killed in the east, exercises for reservists

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Kiev | Two soldiers were shot dead in fighting with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the army said on Tuesday, amid renewed tensions in the region and with Russia.

The two soldiers succumbed to their injuries after being wounded on Monday, the army said, accusing the separatists of having fired at Ukrainian positions with machine guns and grenade launchers.

The first incident took place near the town of Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region, the second, near the town of Zoloté-4, in that of Lugansk, the press service of the Lugansk told AFP. Ukrainian military operation.

These new deaths come at a time when the resurgence of tensions and clashes along the front line raises fears of an escalation of the conflict.

Especially since Ukraine, supported by the West, accuses Russia, considered as the military godfather of the separatists, of gathering soldiers and equipment at its North and East borders, as well as in the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow. .

The Russian authorities claim that its movements of troops in Russian territory are not threatening and accuse Kiev of being responsible for the clashes on the front.

It is in this context that the Ukrainian forces launched on Tuesday ten days of exercises involving 600 reservists in the south of the country for maneuvers to protect “the administrative border with Crimea” and “parts of the coast accessible by disembarkation” .

After a record-breaking truce during the second half of 2020, clashes have multiplied since January on the front.

Since the beginning of the year, 23 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed on the front lines compared to 50 for the whole of the previous year.

This conflict, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives, began in 2014 after a pro-Western revolution in Kiev, which was followed by the annexation of Crimea by Moscow. Despite peace agreements in 2015, its political settlement remains at a standstill.