Russian-backed separatists on Saturday accused Ukrainian forces of killing a child in a drone attack, as Kiev reported the death of one of its soldiers in a land mine explosion.
Kiev has been battling pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions since 2014, following Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.
Reports this week swirled of Russian troop movements and an escalation of armed clashes, while Moscow and Kiev’s Western allies exchanged warnings.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) claimed that a five-year-old child was killed and a woman injured on Saturday in a Ukrainian drone attack.
A report by the DPR’s news agency has not provided any images of the aftermath of the attack allegedly carried out in the village of Oleksandrivske about 15km from the front line.
The claim cannot be independently verified as international monitors and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence have not responded to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian soldier was killed when an explosive device went off near the village of Shumy north of the separatist’s de facto capital, Donetsk, the Ukrainian military said in a statement on Facebook.
Ukraine last week accused Russia of massing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the Crimean Peninsula.
Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops and arms to back up the separatists and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow is at liberty to move troops across its territory.
Germany and France, which have played a mediating role in Russia-Ukraine tensions, on Saturday released a joint statement calling for “restraint” and “immediate de-escalation” from all sides.
Reaffirming their “support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” Berlin and Paris said they were “concerned about the growing number of violations of the cease-fire” brokered in July last year.
US President Joe Biden on Friday affirmed his “unwavering support” for Ukraine in a call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after Russia earlier that day warned the West against sending troops to Ukraine to buttress its ally.
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