UKRAINE CRISIS | Truce still shaken by fighting after no-fire zone set

Ukraine’s truce was shaken further by battles after the government and pro-Russian separatists agreed to create a buffer zone to strengthen the pact.
Rebels continued to shell government troops and the situation in the country’s easternmost regions remained “tense” as of 9 a.m. yesterday, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said on Facebook. While the army started to implement the provisions of the agreement, its response fire killed at least 40 rebels, the ministry said.
Daily clashes have threatened to capsize the cease-fire since it was signed Sept. 5. The country’s bloodiest conflict since World War II has left at least 3,219 dead and 8,198 injured, the United Nations said on Twitter on Sept. 19. The insurgency in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk erupted after Russia annexed Crimea in March.
“Basically we have a cease-fire in name only,” U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s supreme commander for Europe, told reporters in Vilnius, Lithuania, Saturday. “The number of events and rounds fired and the artillery used across the past few days match some of the pre-cease-fire levels. So the cease-fire is still there in name, but what is happening on the ground is quite a different story.”
Gunfire and explosions were heard near Donetsk, the largest city in the conflict zone, hours after the agreement. A munitions factory was heavily damaged, sending a massive plume of smoke into the air and sparking rumors on social media sites that Russia detonated a tactical nuclear warhead.
Ukrainian forces came under fire in 26 locations, according the Defense Ministry in Kiev said yesterday. The situation in Donetsk was tense overnight and three residential buildings were damaged by shelling, the city council said on its website. Aliaksandr Kudrytski and Bryan Bradley, Bloomberg

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