With the US State Department in a state of protracted hiatus for the time being, tensions are again rising between Russia and Ukraine, and especially in East Ukraine, where over the past few days the number of soldiers killed in an offensive by pro-Russian separatists has reportedly risen to seven, Ukraine’s military said on Monday, in the deadliest outbreak of fighting in the east of the country since mid-December.
The clashes between Ukraine’s military and the pro-Russian separatists coincide with U.S. President Donald Trump’s call for better relations with Moscow that has alarmed Kiev while the conflict in its eastern region remains unresolved. According to Ukraine sources, the rebels began attacking government positions in the eastern frontline town of Avdiyivka on Sunday. Five soldiers were killed and nine wounded on Sunday and two more were killed on Monday, they said.
“The situation in the Avdiyivka industrial zone is challenging. The enemy continues to fire at our positions with heavy artillery and mortars,” Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told a regular daily briefing. Naturally, since the media on both sides is clearly biased in its coverage, it came as no surprise that both local separatists news agencies, and Russia, denied escalation had occurred.
In the meantime, it appears that whether real or fabricated, the push to escalate another conflict is building, and on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said that a Ukrainian An-26 transport plane came under rifle fire from a Russian drilling rig while flying near the Odessa gas field in the Black Sea. The plane was allegedly involved in drill over Black Sea, and was flying in Ukrainian air space.
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