Later, the Ukrainian army announced the killing of a Ukrainian soldier, Saturday, during confrontations with rebels backed by Moscow in separatist eastern Ukraine, as fears escalated of a Russian invasion of the former Soviet republic.
“As a result of artillery shelling, a Ukrainian soldier was fatally wounded by shrapnel,” the Joint Military Command of Eastern Ukraine said.
Later, a Reuters witness said he heard several explosions north of the separatist-held city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine.
Declaration of general mobilization in eastern Ukraine
The leader of the separatist Luhansk region issued an order for general mobilization, on Saturday, following the example of the separatist leader in Donetsk, Denis Pushlin, who issued a statement today, announcing a complete mobilization of forces and urging reservists to appear at military recruitment offices.
“I declare a general mobilization on the territory of the Luhansk People’s Republic,” said the decree, signed by the head of the separatist region Leonid Pasechnik, according to AFP.
In Donetsk, the head of the region’s pro-Russian separatist government, Pushlin issued a statement on Saturday, announcing a full mobilization of troops and urging reservists to appear at military recruitment offices, the Associated Press reported.
The move comes amid escalating violence along the line of contact between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed rebels in the region in recent days, which has raised Western fears that Moscow could use it as a pretext for an invasion.
On Friday, the separatist authorities in Donetsk and Luhansk announced a mass evacuation of women, children and the elderly to neighboring Russia, shortly after the evacuation efforts began, several explosions hit rebel-held areas.
Mutual accusations of launching new attacks
On Saturday, Ukrainian forces and Moscow-backed separatists accused each other of violating the ceasefire, fueling fears about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military said it had detected 12 ceasefire violations by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The previous day, the armed forces in Kiev announced 66 exchanges of fire by 4:00 am GMT, while the rebels in Donetsk, a stronghold of the separatists, described the situation as “dangerous.”
It is noteworthy that the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014 and killed more than 14,000 people.