Ukraine says separatists in east of country targeted its positions with grenade launchers and mortars
Ukraine has said one of its soldiers was killed in fighting with pro-Russia separatists in the east of the country, as tensions with Moscow rise.
Kyiv has been battling a pro-Moscow insurgency in two breakaway regions bordering Russia since 2014, when the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
Russia has massed troops near Ukraine’s borders, and the west has accused it of planning an invasion and threatened Moscow with massive sanctions should it launch an attack.
The Ukrainian army said separatists had targeted its positions with grenade launchers and mortars. One serviceman was killed and another was injured, it said.
Kiev and its allies accuse Russia of supporting the rebels militarily – claims that Moscow denies.
The latest death brings Ukraine’s toll in the simmering conflict to 65 since the start of the year, according to an AFP tally based on official figures, compared with 50 in 2020.
Russia has massed about 100,000 troops on its side of the border. Joe Biden has warned Vladimir Putin of “sanctions like he’s never seen” should the troops attack Ukraine. On Thursday, European Union leaders urged Moscow to halt its military buildup and return to talks led by France and Germany.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has so far left more than 13,000 people dead.