Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council said on Sunday that government
forces had repelled rebel attacks on checkpoints and Ukrainian positions
near Debaltseve and Chornukhyne, a nearby settlement, after “massive firing”
by the separatists with Grad rockets, artillery, mortars and small arms.
The council said more than 350 people were evacuated from
government-controlled areas of Donetsk region.
Kiev also announced its forces had “destroyed” 70 rebel fighters and 14
military vehicles, including two howitzers, two Grad rocket launchers and
The Ukrainian military had “received the latest evidence of Russian aggression
against Ukraine” by seizing several Shmel portable rocket launchers which it
said were only used by the Russian army.
The claims could not be independently verified.
Local authorities in Donetsk, the city which is the separatists’ stronghold,
said the situation was “tense”, and cannonades of incoming artillery fire
had been heard all night. Several neighbourhoods were hit and one blast blew
the windows out of an old people’s home.
In total, fresh fighting left 12 civilians dead, separatist and Kiev
authorities reported, with 12 Ukrainian troops also killed in the last 24
Angela Merkel and François Hollande at their meeting with Petro Poroshenko,
the Ukrainian president, in Kiev on Thursday
Last week, Human Rights Watch blamed rebel forces for two recent attacks with
unguided rockets which killed at least 41 civilians, but said that a series
of other assaults with explosive weapons “appear to implicate government
Besides erratic shelling, the fighting has led to dire consequences for
civilians living in the war zone.
Almost 7,000 people in Donetsk were without gas on Sunday, food and medical
supplies are dwindling in hospitals and the Ukrainian government has
introduced a tiresome and bureaucratic permit system for crossing the front
line that hinders businesses.
Denis Pushilin, a rebel representative, said on Sunday that he hoped the talks
Hollande and Vladimir
Putin in Minsk would bring agreement on a ceasefire and a
demilitarised zone between the warring sides.
Mr Pushilin said that it was “extremely important” to the separatists that
observers or peacekeepers who would police such a zone were already involved
in the peace process – “that is, Russia and the Organisation for Security
and Cooperation in Europe”.
He added: “This could be our only chance to stop the hostilities and prevent
them breaking out again.”