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Iran Press TV

7 Ukrainian soldier killed in clashes in volatile east

Iran Press TV

Tue May 24, 2016 1:48PM

Ukraine says seven of its soldiers have been killed and nine others wounded in a fresh wave of clashes with pro-Russia forces in the troubled east over the past 24 hours.

Oleksander Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said on Tuesday that it is the largest number of casualties in the region in a single day so far this year.

"In the last day, we lost seven Ukrainian soldiers, and another nine were wounded as a result of military clashes," Turchynov said, adding that it was the greatest number of losses over the past year.

Turchynov also accused pro-Russia fighters of using heavy weapons along the frontline of the conflict in volatile eastern Ukraine.

Also on Tuesday, leaders of Russia, France, Germany, and Ukraine spoke by telephone about ways to settle the conflict.

Also earlier this month, France and Germany held a round of talks with Ukraine and Russia in Berlin, Germany, as part of mediation efforts to hammer out a lasting peace deal. However, no consensus was reached over the issue.

In September 2014, the government in Kiev and the pro-Russians signed a ceasefire agreement in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk in a bid to halt the clashes in Ukraine's eastern regions.

The warring sides also inked another truce deal, dubbed Minsk II, in February 2015 under the supervision of Russia, Germany and France.

They agreed on pulling back heavy weapons, releasing prisoners, setting up a buffer zone on the Russia-Ukraine border, and allowing access to international observers.

Since then, however, both parties have on numerous occasions accused each other of breaking the ceasefire.

Conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine after people in the country's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea voted for unification with Russia in March 2014.

The West brands the development as Moscow's annexation of the territory. The US and its allies in Europe also accuse Moscow of having a major hand in the crisis in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies the charge.

Ukraine's eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk have witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.

The crisis has left over 9,300 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.

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