Ukraine on Monday blamed pro-Russian separatists for continuing cease-fire violations along the line of contact, with nearly 100 times resorting to shelling civilians’ settlements and infrastructure in eastern Ukraine over the last five days.
“Over the last five days, there have been almost 100 incidents of shelling of civilian infrastructure, civilian homes, and settlements all along the line of contact,” Viktor Lysyuk, head of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Headquarters’ Joint Center for Civil-Military Cooperation, told Anadolu Agency.
Noting that he is only authorized to provide information about the humanitarian situation in the Donbas region, he stressed that the pro-Russian separatists are also targeting “key civil infrastructure elements” such as water supply and electricity systems.
“I would like to highlight that by shelling educational institutions like elementary schools, middle schools, kindergartens, and regular homes of civilians, Russian occupation forces are violating international humanitarian law,” he added.
Last week, the Ukrainian General Staff posted pictures of a destroyed kindergarten on its social media account, noting that pro-Russian separatist fighters bombed the StanytsiaLuhanska settlement under Kyiv government control.
“As a result of the heavy artillery fire by the terrorists, the bombshells fell on the kindergarten building. According to initial reports, two civilians were injured,” it said.
Pavlo Kovalchuk, chief of the Joint Forces Press Service, said at a media briefing in the eastern city of Kramatorsk that the “Russian Federation,” apparently referring to pro-Russian separatists, violated the cease-fire 80 times in the last 24 hours, including 72 incidents in which the “Russian occupation forces” used armament prohibited by Minsk agreements.
The Minsk agreements signed in 2015, aimed at stopping the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Kyiv in eastern Ukraine.
The terms of the agreements included a cease-fire in the region, prisoner exchanges, and the withdrawal of pro-Russia separatists, while also allowing Kyiv to make a constitutional amendment that would give Donbas special status.
However, their implementation has been hindered by repeated allegations of violations by both sides.
– ‘Provocation to accuse Ukrainian service members’
On Sunday, the pro-Russian separatists carried out “yet another provocation in order to falsely accuse Ukrainian service members,” said Kovalchuk.
“The aggressor opened fire using heavy armament from the settlement of Lobacheve in the direction of Luhansk. Both settlements are located on the territory that is currently temporarily occupied and not under the control of the Ukrainian government,” he added.
Kovalchuk added that “without any aggressive actions” by the Ukrainian servicemen, the occupational forces continue to carry out “chaotic shelling” of settlements on the occupied territories “with the aim of discrediting to Join Forces.”
He underlined that in the last 24 hours, a vehicle of the Ukrainian representatives of the Joint Cease-fire Coordination and Control Center was destroyed as a result of shelling.
“These acts once again prove the unwillingness of the aggressor to abide by the agreements that were reached, as well as these acts are aimed at further escalating the situation along the line of contact.”
As of Monday morning, the occupation forces have violated the cease-fire regime on eight separate occasions, including the use of armament prohibited by Minsk agreements, Kovalchuk said.
“As a result of the shelling, one service member was wounded in action. He is currently in a stable condition,” he said.
“The occupation forces continue to covertly shell the positions of Ukrainian defenders from behind the civilian settlements, hiding behind civilians as a living shield,” Kovalchuk claimed.
He highlighted that Ukrainian service members never opened fire targeting civilian infrastructure and “strictly abide by international humanitarian law.”
Tensions have risen dramatically in eastern Ukraine, with a growing number of cease-fire violations, multiple shelling incidents, and the evacuation of civilians from the pro-Russian separatists’ regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Western countries have accused Russia of amassing more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, prompting fears that it could be planning a military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor.
Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and instead accused Western countries of undermining Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.
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