Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine’s army is not planning to pull its heavy weapons back from the frontline late Monday, as it is meant to do under a nascent truce, because of continued attacks by pro-Russian rebels, a military spokesman told AFP.
“There is no question at the moment of us withdrawing heavy weapons,” spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said. “How can we pull back weapons if the rebels are trying to attack us with tanks, and are constantly firing at us?”
Another military spokesman, Dmytro Chaly, separately told AFP that at least five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 22 wounded in the town of Shyrokine by rebel fire since the ceasefire started early Sunday. The town is near the coastal city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian government officials said the rebels were keeping up shelling of Debaltseve, a strategic town that serves as a railway hub linking the main insurgent-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east.
Thousands of government troops are in the town, which is mostly surrounded by rebels.