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Kiev’s military begin saturation fire on Donetsk

Shells reach central districts, Donetsk republic’s head Valentin Motuzenko said

DONETSK, January 18. /TASS/. Ukraine’s military began on Sunday morning saturation fire on Donetsk from all kinds of weapons, aide to the Donetsk republic’s head Valentin Motuzenko said.

Earlier on Sunday, Ukraine’s presidential aide Yuri Birukov wrote on his Facebook page: “Two hours ago the entire group of our military in sector B received an order and opened saturation fire on known positions of the separatists.”

Combat actions between the Ukrainian military and militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics during Kiev’s military operation in the country’s east conducted since mid-April 2014 have claimed over 4,000 lives and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes, according to UN data.

A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the OSCE on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Two weeks later, on September 20 the Contact Group adopted a memorandum on implementing a ceasefire. The nine-item document includes a ban on all weapons, pulling back heavy weapons from the line of engagement and setting up a buffer zone of 15 kilometres. It also entrusts the OSCE with a task of controlling implementation of the agreements.

On December 9 the parties to the conflict announced “the regime of silence” in the area of Kiev’s combat operation in Donbass aiming to come over to implementation of the Minsk accords.

Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics declared an urgency to pull back heavy weapons, to exchange prisoners of war and to demilitarise the region.

On December 12 the foreign ministers of the “Normandy Quartet” comprising Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine held a meeting in Berlin. The ministers noted at the negotiations their readiness to meet in the coming week following the political directors’ meeting as a condition.

On Friday the Minsk talks of the Contact Group on Ukraine were frustrated because of the situation around the Donetsk airport and the failure to agree the agenda.

Thus, the summit in “the Normandy format” in Kazakhstan’s capital city Astana, which was scheduled for January 15, was postponed for indefinite term.