Mine blast kills seven Ukrainian troops as violence increase

Blast in Donbass region kills at least seven Ukrainian servicemen when their military truck hits mine amid increasing violence that imperils fragile peace in eastern Ukraine

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

At least seven Ukrainian soldiers died on Monday as a military truck that carries them hit a mine near Donetsk where a trend of increasing violence between Ukrainian central forces and pro-Russian separatists have started to endanger peace and ceasefire measures agreed in Minsk.

Ukrainian military spokesman Yevgen Silkin blamed separatist forces over the incident outside of the 16,000-people-settled town of Krasnogorivka that is 20 km away from Donetsk. "The roads in this area are mined by the enemy," he said.

The separatist forces immediately disclaimed the allegations made by Ukraine’s military and stated that those mines were stowed by the Kiev army during the last years’ conflicts.

Ukrainian leadership continuously accuses Russia of supporting the separatist cause in the east of the country, hereby, violating the truce agreed in the Belarussian capital in the middle of February.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko addressed the parliament last week and warned its military to be prepared for a “full scale of invasion” by Moscow-armed forces into the separatist eastern region.

Poroshenko for the first time used the term “invasion” by referring Russia’s military presence towards the Donbass region a day after shelling attack in the town of Marinka that had caused the killing of at least 26 people on Wednesday.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak also indicated Russia’s visible involvement in the east and stated that the separatists, who control the country’s industrial heartland since last year, could muster more than 550 tanks and an array of other heavy weapons.

"The combined size of the Russian armed forces [currently alleged to be in Ukraine] and illegal armed formations... stands at more than 42,500," Poltorak told a group of visiting envoy from the NATO member countries.

"This amount of weapons, as we all understand, would be sufficient for a mid-sized European state," he added.

Poroshenko had also given the numbers of Russian soldiers who were actively participating to back the separatist forces as being more than 9,000 in the Donbass region.

According to the UN figures that were announced at the end of the last month, at least 6,450 people have been killed, including 626 women and girls, and 15,962 others wounded in more than 13 months of fighting in eastern Ukraine where human rights abuses are believed to have been maintained throughout the conflict.

Since Ukrainian authorities have shown two Russian soldiers who were captured during a battle with the pro-Russian separatists last month, both Ukraine and the West slammed Russian involvement which was also claimed by the UN and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring missions in eastern Ukraine.

But Russian authorities frequently deny such allegations and accusations made by Kiev and the West and say that their soldiers have only been patrolling the porous borders with the eastern Ukraine.

The Kremlin has recently said the two captives were former soldiers who had already left the military and they were very likely to be “military volunteers” backing the separatists with a motivation of what the Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed, who were answering "a call of the heart."

The Euro-Atlantic bloc admonished Russia once again as the G7 - consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States- leaders met in Germany on Sunday and urged Moscow to abide by the Minsk Protocol which aimed to terminate over one year of conflict and tension on the edge of Eastern Europe.

Russia had been locked out of what was previously known as the G8, after the annexation of Crimea via a fait accompli referendum in March 2014.

The G7 leaders, foremost US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, seemed very adamant on the sanctions imposed on Russia due to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and its alleged intervention in the Ukraine’s separatist war.

For the current level of the relations, the Kremlin blames the US administration and NATO for the eastward enlargement further into the post-Soviet space, while the Euro-Atlantic alliance has cautiously been watching Moscow’s recent military presence towards eastern Europe in the wake of ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

The European Union warned Russia last week about a “new spiral of violence” upon the broken ceasefire in Donetsk and menaced Moscow by tightening the economic sanctions imposed last year end.

TRTWorld and agencies