Ukrainian Troop Deaths at Highest in a Year as Fighting Surges

  • Fatalities indicate latest attempt at a truce is falling apart
  • President Poroshenko warns security situation is deteriorating

Soldier deaths in the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine jumped to the most in a year as the latest cease-fire unravels and after President Petro Poroshenko warned the security situation is deteriorating.

Seven government servicemen were killed and nine were wounded in fighting with pro-Russian insurgents during the past 24 hours, Oleksandr Turchynov, who heads the National Security and Defense Council, said Tuesday. The military said rebel shelling and explosives caused the fatalities.

Two years since it began, the conflict that’s killed more than 10,000 people and jolted the post-Cold War order is no closer to a resolution. A 2015 peace accord sealed in the Belarusian of Minsk hasn’t been implemented. The latest round of four-way talks between Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France failed to reach a breakthrough last month in Berlin amid friction over issues such as the status of the rebel-held lands and local elections.

The separatists have “significantly increased the intensity of shelling on Ukrainian troops,” Turchynov said in a statement, accusing them of “using heavy arms banned under the Minsk pact and setting up firing positions in residential districts of seized towns.”

Poroshenko discussed the most recent unrest, which follows April’s new attempt at a truce, with Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande by phone Tuesday morning. He called for the deployment to the conflict zone of police from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which currently has monitors in the are though complains access is limited.

Cease-fire violations in Ukraine are a very urgent issue, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said later Tuesday on a conference call with reporters.

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