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Kyiv, Separatists Report Armored Clash Despite Cease-Fire

  • RFE/RL

One Ukrainian soldier was killed and nine injured in the latest clashes between Ukrainian armed forces and Russia-backed separatists in the Donetsk region, a Ukrainian military official says.

Vladyslav Seleznyov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff, said on August 10 that Ukrainian forces had managed to maintain control over the town of Starohnativka, 50 kilometers north of the Kyiv-held port city of Mariupol, after a separatist attack.

Mariupol sits along a key route linking parts of eastern Ukraine controlled by the rebels and Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March, 2014.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, told reporters in Kyiv that up to 400 separatists supported by 10 tanks and 10 armored personnel carriers and other vehicles attacked Ukrainian positions overnight.

According to Lysenko, "the enemy suffered significant losses in personnel and equipment."

Lysenko described shelling by pro-Russian separatists in the past 24 hours as the heaviest since a battle for the town of Debaltseve in February.

Meanwhile, rebel commander Eduard Basurin says forces under his command stopped an attempt by Ukrainian forces to advance in the same area on August 10.

According to Basurin, Ukrainian forces lost two tanks, one armored personnel carrier, and a military truck with a missile on it.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also announced that “about 200 insurgents” had staged a pre-dawn raid on Novolaspa, a village half way between separatist-held Donetsk and Mariupol.

According to the presidency, Viktor Muzhenko, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian military, "informed the president that the Ukrainian forces gave a fitting rebuff and repelled all the attacks."

However, the Defense Ministry later reported the separatists were mounting a second attack on the same village, where the outcome was not immediately clear.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said the clashes were “a dangerous indication of a further escalation to come.”

The rebels said Novolaspa had always been one of their frontline outposts and said the claims by Kyiv made no sense.

The pro-Russian separatists accused Kyiv of trying to gain back territory it lost in fighting.

More than 6,400 people have been killed in the military conflict between Ukrainian armed forces and pro-Russia separatists in parts of Ukraine's eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk since April, 2014.

A fragile cease-fire was negotiated in Minsk in February, but it is marred by daily violations.

Based on reporting by UNIAN, Interfax, and Reuters
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