Five Ukraine Troops Die in Clash with Donetsk Rebels

Five Ukrainian soldiers died in a heavy rebel shelling of Ukrainian army positions at Avdiivka just north of rebel-held Donetsk. The U.S. State Department blamed the “Russian-led” rebels for the flare-up and urged both sides to observe the fragile ceasefire. More than 10,000 people have died since the eastern Ukraine conflict began in April 2014 and has displaced more than 1.6 million people according to the U.N. A ceasefire was agreed in Minsk in February 2015, but clearly these terms have not been met by either side. The Donetsk rebel chief, Alexander Zakharchenko, announced plans to create a new “state” to replace Ukraine, calling it “Malorossiya (Little Russia).” The Kremlin dismissed Zakharchenko’s statements as his “personal initiative.”

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