Separatist shelling reportedly kills 2 Ukrainian soldiers

Ukrainian soldier
(Image credit: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukraine's military said artillery shells fired by Russian-backed separatists killed two Ukrainian soldiers and wounded four others in eastern Ukraine on Saturday, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters, the "Ukrainian military said on its Facebook page" at around 5:00 p.m. local time that "it had recorded 70 ceasefire violations by separatists since the start of the day compared with 66 cases over the previous 24 hours." Since 2014, around 14,000 people have been killed in fighting between the separatists and Ukrainian government forces.

Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst, who pulled back from the front in eastern Ukraine on Saturday afternoon after the unit with which he was embedded came under separatist artillery fire, said the Ukrainian forces he was with did not return fire. He also said other Ukrainian troops he had spoken with earlier in the week said they returned fire in response to other attacks, but only "within the confines of the [Minsk] Agreement," which banned heavy weapons from the front.

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Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade, to whom Yingst was speaking, suggested that Ukrainian forces were showing restraint "because they don't want to respond to that provocation, which is exactly what [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is looking for."

According to The Associated Press, Russia accused Ukrainian government forces of firing at least two shells at the separatists, a claim Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed as "fake."

The New York Times reported that separatist leaders urged 700,000 women and children to evacuate the areas they control, "claiming that Ukrainian government forces were planning a large-scale attack." Per AP, Russia "has issued around 700,000 passports to residents of the rebel-held territories."

Russia has massed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine's border and is conducting large-scale military exercises, including drills involving Russia's nuclear arsenal.

President Biden said Friday that he is "convinced" Putin has made up his mind to invade Ukraine.

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