Ukraine Day 1053: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
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One Ukrainian soldier has been wounded as Kiev reports the worst fighting so far this year.
Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, told reporters today that one soldier had been wounded when Russia-backed forces shelled positions near Svetlodarsk.
This stretch of the front, east of Gorlovka and north of Debaltsevo, saw the most intense fighting of 2016 last month.
According to this morning’s report from the Ukrainian military, Russia-backed forces used 152 mm artillery to shell positions near Troitskoye, northeast of Svetlodarsk. This is the first use of such heavy artillery this year.
This morning Leonid Matyukhin, a Ukrainian military spokesman, told the 112 news channel that Russian-backed forces had continued to shell positions near Troitskoye with 152 mm artillery after midnight.
Meanwhile Colonel Motuzyanyk claimed that Ukrainian police had found an arms cache in the village of Novoluganskoye, on the other side of the Svetlodarsk reservoir.
Ukrainian troops entered Novoluganskoye just before Christmas, finally establishing practical control over the village which had previously been effectively controlled by Russia-backed fighters despite formally coming under government jurisdiction according to the Minsk agreements.
The “grey zone” status of the village had turned the settlement into a major thoroughfare for smuggling.
Elsewhere on the front line, the Ukrainian military reports that Russia-backed forces yesterday used mortars near Mariupol, shelling positions near the villages of Vodyanoye, Lebedinskoye and Shirokino, where troops also came under fire from BMP infantry fighting vehicles.
To the north of Donetsk, Colonel Motuzyanyk reported heavy fighting in the Avdeyevka area:
In turn, the Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk have accused Ukrainian forces of opening fire 427 times over 24 hours.
At his daily press conference this afternoon, Eduard Basurin, deputy commander of the armed forces of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), claimed that Ukrainian troops had fired 73 mortar rounds and 133 grenades.
It seems the remaining 221 incidents of fire must refer to individual rounds from small arms or vehicle cannons. How the DNR could be able to so precisely tally such weapons use each day is unknown. These figures are quite possibly entirely arbitrary.
— Pierre Vaux