KIEV: Three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a flare-up of the conflict with Russian-backed separatists, the army said Wednesday, hours before peace talks were set to resume.
It was the deadliest day in the conflict since new president Volodymyr Zelensky took office last month.
Kiev’s armed forces accused insurgents of using heavy weaponry that is banned by peace agreements.
It also said in a statement that three soldiers were wounded in large-calibre mortar and anti-tank missile system attacks.
Since 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed in the war which erupted after a popular uprising ousted Ukraine’s pro-Kremlin president and Russia annexed Crimea.
Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms across the border to fan the flames of the conflict.
Moscow has denied the claims despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Zelensky accused the Kremlin of escalating the conflict ahead of talks aimed at finding ways to implement peace agreements that are due resume Wednesday in Minsk.
It will be the first meeting of Kiev and Moscow representatives since Zelensky, a former comedian with no previous political experience, became president.
On Tuesday, Zelensky held talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and the head of NATO Jens Stoltenberg.
During his first foreign trip as president, Zelensky urged Europe to step up pressure on Russia in order to end the war in Ukraine’s east. — AFP
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