KIEV, February 18. /TASS/. Ukraine recorded an extraordinary number of incidents of shelling at its positions in Donbass, compared to earlier this year, the country’s Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov told the national legislature on Friday.
"Yesterday, we registered some anomalous events that stand considerably apart from what had happened since the start of the year," he said. "Our goal is to tame this anomaly so it doesn’t become a prelude for an escalation."
Reznikov said there were 60 instances of shelling on Thursday at the positions of the Ukrainian forces along the contact line, including 43 incidents when "prohibited’ weapons were used. That compares with 107 incidents of shelling from January 1 to February 16, or 2-5 incidents per day, he said.
Reznikov said shelling started at 5 am Kiev time and lasted until 2 pm, then "spiked" at 10 pm. Gunfire was directed at about 30 population centers; several people were shell-shocked or injured while more than 10 buildings were damaged, the minister said.
The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics have also reported some of the most intensive shelling by Kiev’s armed forces in recent months. The situation along the contact line in eastern Ukraine took a turn for the worse on Thursday morning. According to the DPR, Ukraine’s armed forces opened fire at the territory of the republic 24 times during the past day. The shelling was aimed at population centers including Gorlovka and Donetsk. Heavy weaponry was used, 286 units of ammunition were fired. A civilian woman was injured at Staromikhailovka, two houses were damaged in a Donetsk neighborhood.
The LPR reported 29 instances of ceasefire violations by the Ukrainian armed forces.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin was keeping an eye on the situation and regards it as "very, very dangerous" due to provocations by Ukraine. Additional ceasefire control measures have been in place in Donbass since July 2020. They were agreed by the Contact Group for the Settlement of the Situation in Eastern Ukraine. The measures include prohibition of offensive, reconnaissance and subversive missions, use of aircraft, gunfire and deployment of heavy weapons in population centers.