Ukraine Says Soldier Killed Fighting Separatists As Tensions With Moscow Soar
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service December 17, 2021
A Ukrainian soldier has been killed during the latest clashes with Kremlin-backed separatists in the country's east, ratcheting up already heightened tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.
Ukraine's Defense Ministry said on December 17 that one of its soldiers was killed and one wounded after separatists opened fire from mortars, grenade launchers, and machine guns at Ukrainian military positions overnight.
Representatives for the separatists did not immediately comment on the incident, which could not be independently verified.
The clashes were reported as the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine have expressed alarm over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine's borders, interpreting it as a possible prelude to an invasion.
Russia has denied it is planning to invade Ukraine and issued a series of demands, including direct dialogue with the United States to resolve the standoff and a guarantee that Ukraine won't one day become a NATO member.
Europe's only shooting war in Ukraine has uprooted more than 1.5 million people from their homes in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, some parts of which have been under separatist control since April 2014.
The conflict started after Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine's Crimea region in in February-March 2014.
Russia has provided military, economic, and political support to the separatists. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Moscow maintains it is not involved in Ukraine's domestic affairs.
Copyright (c) 2021. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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