Fears of new flareup in Ukraine as violence grows on front­line

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

PISKY: It’s been only two months since Ye­lena Krivonos has stopped sleep­ing in her cel­lar to hide from shelling, but now that violence has ticked up in east­ern Ukraine she is headed back un­der­ground. “Com­bat has be­gun again,” the 31-year-old mother of two said af­ter tak­ing warm cloth­ing for her­self and her chil­dren to the base­ment. “At night they are launch­ing mor­tars and some­thing heav­ier, the house is shak­ing again.” “I guess the end of this war is still a long way off.”

Ye­lena’s house stands close to the front­line near Donetsk, the largest city held by proRus­sian sep­a­ratists in the coun­try’s east who have bat­tled with Ukraine’s forces since April 2014. In Septem­ber, the lat­est in a string of Western-bro­kered cease­fire agree­ments went into force, push­ing fight­ing to its low­est level since close to the start of the con­flict. Of­fi­cially the war­ring sides in­sist they have been with­draw­ing weapons, with Ukraine’s mil­i­tary on Satur­day say­ing it has pulled their 82-mm mor­tars back from the front­line, fol­low­ing sim­i­lar declarations by pro-Moscow rebels.

On the ground how­ever, each side is ac­cus­ing the other of fir­ing at sol­diers and civil­ians, un­der­lin­ing the fragility of the truce that some fear could dis­in­te­grate like pre­vi­ous cease­fires. In the vil­lage of Pisky, the clos­est Ukrainian po­si­tion to the rav­aged rebel- con­trolled Donetsk air­port, sol­diers re­port com­bat in­juries ev­ery day. On the other side of the front­line in rebel-held ter­ri­tory, Ye­lena’s vil­lage of Staromikhailivka and out­ly­ing neigh­bour­hoods of the in­sur­gent cap­i­tal Donetsk com­plain of Ukrainian at­tacks.

“Even af­ter pulling back heavy weapons, we are see­ing the enemy take tanks al­most into Pisky,” said Dmitry Dvoichenkov, ar­tillery op­er­a­tor and press of­fi­cer for Ukraine’s 93rd bri­gade based in the vil­lage. “They are shoot­ing ev­ery day from firearms, mor­tar launch­ers and grenade launch­ers,” he said. “Lately we even had peo­ple die... con­stantly we have peo­ple hit, our guys are in­jured on a daily ba­sis.” If there is a full-blown as­sault on Ukrainian po­si­tions, “we’ll de­fend with what we have,” Dvoichenkov said, adding that the rest of weaponry could reach the front­line “within an hour”. On Tues­day, Kiev said four Ukrainian sol­diers were in­jured in east­ern Ukraine. —AFP

DAVEY­TON: Photo shows Mido Ma­cia, a Mozam­bi­can taxi driver, who was dragged to death by South African Po­lice in Davey­ton east of Johannesburg, and his sis­ter Mel­ida Ma­cia. —AFP

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