Ukraine soldier killed in separatist east

A Ukrainian soldier was killed on Tuesday in an attack by pro-Russian separatists in the conflict-ridden east of the country, Kiev said.

The Ukrainian army has been locked in a simmering conflict with separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions that erupted after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

“As a result of enemy fire, one serviceman of the Joint Forces was fatally wounded,” Ukraine’s military said in a statement. 

Another soldier received injuries, the statement added.

Kiev said the separatists had on Tuesday launched seven attacks on Ukrainian troops using cannons, grenade launchers and machine guns.

After an uptick in violence at the beginning of the year, Russia amassed around 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders in the spring, raising fears of a major escalation in the conflict.

Russia later announced a pullback but both Ukraine and its ally the United States said at the time the withdrawal was limited.

The conflict, which has claimed more than 13,000 lives, has seen at least 57 Ukrainian soldiers killed since the start of the year compared with 50 in all of 2020.

The separatists say some 40 of their fighters have died.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of sending troops and arms across the borders. Moscow has denied those claims.