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Iran Press TV

Three Ukrainian soldiers killed in clashes in troubled east

Iran Press TV

Sun Jun 19, 2016 2:34PM

The Ukrainian military has announced the death of three of its soldiers in new clashes between government troops and pro-Russia forces in the country's troubled east.

"As a result of fighting, three Ukrainian soldiers have unfortunately been killed over the past 24 hours," Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, a Ukrainian military spokesman, said on Sunday, adding that another soldier had sustained serious injuries.

According to Motuzyanyk, one of the soldiers came under fire in the village of Talakivka, some 80 kilometers south of Donetsk, and the other two servicemen lost their lives in a mine explosion in the village of Lugansk, located about 50 kilometers northeast of Donetsk.

The Ukrainian military spokesman accused pro-Russia forces of using banned weapons under Minsk truce agreements.

Meanwhile, an anonymous source with pro-Russians on Sunday also accused Ukrainian government troops of firing 130 mortars and shells overnight.

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; a charge that Moscow denies.

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 later in April 2014 to crush pro-Moscow protests there.

The crisis has left nearly 9,400 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations.

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. They agreed on 12 points, including pulling back heavy weapons, exchanging prisoners, setting up a buffer zone on the Russia-Ukraine border, and allowing access to international observers.

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

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

Earlier last month, France and Germany held a round of talks with Ukraine and Russia in the German capital of Berlin as part of mediation efforts to hammer out a lasting peace deal, but no consensus was reached over the issue.

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