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Tank Battle Reported In Donetsk As Cease-Fire Nears

Newly mobilized Ukrainian soldiers march as they take part in training at the 169th training center of Ukrainian ground forces "Desna" in the Chernihiv region on February 13.

A tank battle was reportedly raging in eastern Ukraine as government forces continued to fight Russian-backed separatists ahead of a cease-fire slated to go into effect this weekend.

The pro-government Azov unit reported on February 13 that it was engaged in heavy fighting with separatists units near the village of Shyrokyne in the Volnovakhsk district of Donetsk.

Reports said heavy artillery was also being used in the battle.

Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleh Turchynov claimed government forces had taken control of other villages in the area, including Pavlopil, Kominternove, Lebedynske, and Berdyanske.

There were no casualty figures available.

Elsewhere in the Donetsk region, a rocket hit a school in the town of Artemivsk, killing a 7-year-old boy and wounding at least four other people, three of them reportedly also children.

Each side in the conflict accuses the other of responsibility for the rocket that hit the school.

At least four people were reportedly killed and six other seriously wounded in a rocket attack on the town of Gornyak, near the city of Donetsk.

Fighting is reported in at least a dozen other areas.

The Daily Vertical: War By Other Means
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This latest fighting comes after a fresh Minsk agreement on February 11 called on all sides in the conflict in eastern Ukraine to cease fire by early February 15.

At least 27 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since this latest cease-fire agreement was announced.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned on February 13 that "we are still a long way from peace."

Meanwhile, in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, Russia's ambassador to the European Union, said on February 13 the Russian government would be watching to see of the provisions of the Minsk agreements were fully implemented.

Chizhov mentioned in particular the provision on the removal of all foreign participants from the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

He said "it is no secret that citizens of [many] countries have been taking part in the conflict...yes, Russian citizens too are fighting in Donbas...but on both sides there are a whole host of other states, including EU citizens."

Based on reporting by Interfax and UNIAN