Ukrainian forces shelled multiple settlements overnight in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in Ukraine’s southeast, according to the DPR mission to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on the ceasefire regime (JCCC).
The Ukrainian forces attempted to attack the positions of the People’s Militia of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), but suffered losses and retreated, the people’s police of the LPR said on Sunday.
“At around 5 am on 20 February, fighters of the 79th Airborne Assault Brigade made an attempt to attack the positions of the People’s Militia in the area of the settlement of Pionerskoye, crossing the Seversky Donets River. As a result of the clash, the enemy suffered losses and retreated,” the people’s police said in a statement.
A thwarted attack by Kiev forces led to the destruction of five homes and casualties among the civilian population, the LPR people’s police said.
“The criminal actions of the Ukrainian armed groups led to the destruction of 5 residential buildings and casualties among the civilian population. Additional data is being specified,” the police said in a statement.
Starting from late Saturday night, Kiev forces have shelled multiple settlements in the DPR in Ukraine’s southeast, including Donetsk’s suburbs, using artillery prohibited by the Minsk agreements, the DPR mission to the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination on the ceasefire regime (JCCC) said in the early hours of Sunday.
The authorities of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republic started the evacuation of civilians to Russia on Friday, fearing military aggression by the Ukrainian government. Over 3,100 people were evacuated on Saturday from the LPR to Russia. The DPR has evacuated 6,600 people, including almost 2,500 children as of Saturday, according to the DPR Ministry of Emergency Situations.
Tensions on the line of contact between Ukraine and the DPR and LPR have deteriorated in the past days, after Kiev intensified its shelling of the republics. In recent months, the Western countries and Kiev have been accusing Russia of preparing for an alleged “invasion” of Ukraine. In turn, Moscow has denied these claims, repeatedly stating that it is not threatening anyone and at the same time expressing strong concerns over NATO’s military activity near Russia’s borders, which it considers as a threat to its national security. The conflict between Ukraine’s government and the breakaway republics has been simmering since 2014. In February 2015, the Minsk Agreements, designed to find a political resolution to the conflict, were negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in the Normandy group format. However, the agreement has not been observed so far and sporadic clashes continue. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Kiev is not fulfilling the agreements and is delaying negotiations to resolve the conflict.