The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) has announced that miners have been rescued from the Zasyadko and Skochinsky coal mines in Donetsk where they were trapped following shelling between government troops and separatist forces.
On Wednesday, the Ukraine's eastern Donetsk region was left without power due to the bombardment. DPR officials confirmed that because of the shelling the coal mine was “de-energised.”
The military spokesman of the DPR, Eduard Basurin, said that 576 miners from Zasyadko coal mine and 375 miners from the Skochinsky mine have been evacuated.
DPR emergency services said that “rescuers have completed work to bring to surface the miners who remained underground from the moment the mine lost power as a result of the shelling."
Both Ukrainian officials and pro-Russian separatists confirmed that there has been shelling on town of Marinka. Both sides have been blaming each other since the bombardment started.
With both sides accusing each other of being behind the shelling, the cease-fire in the region is being brought into question.
OSCE confirms shelling
On Thursday, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed that “movement of heavy weapons” has been observed in eastern Ukraine.
Observers from the OSCE reported that that “at 15:00hrs [on Wednesday] the SMM received a letter from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, saying Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons would be placed on the contact line in order to deal with the ‘real threat’ posed by the fighting in [the government-controlled town of] Marinka, which they said had started at 06:00hrs that morning."
"Ukrainian officials later publicly acknowledged that the weapons had been used, saying their use was necessary in thwarting a ‘DPR’ [self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic] attack," the observers added.
Meanwhile, Ukranian Presidential Aide Yuri Biryukov said that Wednesday’s shelling killed five Ukrainian soldiers and injured 39 more.
Ukraine’s separatist war cooled down after the OSCE-mediated ceasefire was sealed in the Belarussian capital of Minsk, but the fragile peace has been sporadically violated by both Kiev forces and the separatists.
The Kiev government has vowed to protect its territorial integrity as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has reiterated several times since the conflict stated that his country will retake the breakaway regions.
The Ukrainian leadership still suspects Moscow is not abiding with the armistice agreed in Minsk since violations have recently increased again in the Donbass region.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Stepan Poltorak said on Thursday that Russia has been keeping its frontline forces in its east where Kiev army and the pro-Russian separatists could soon resume the clashes despite the fragile ceasefire.
Russia denies such allegations by Kiev and says that its soldiers have only been patrolling Russia’s porous border with the eastern Ukraine.
Authorities in Ukraine displayed two Russian soldiers who were captured during a battle with the pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east on Sunday.
The capture of the soldiers came just days after the release of a report published by the Russian opposition claiming at least 220 Russian soldiers were killed in the war in eastern Ukraine in the past year.
Last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to pull back all troops and heavy artillery from Ukraine and to stop supporting the separatists in the region.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced this month that the separatist war in the east has caused the death of 7,000 people so far, while the UN reported this week the death toll from Ukraine’s one year of conflict is 6,417 people.