by Staff Writers
Kiev (AFP) Feb 16, 2015
Ukraine's army is not planning to pull its heavy weapons back from the frontline late Monday, as it is meant to do under a nascent truce, because of continued attacks by pro-Russian rebels, a military spokesman told AFP.
"There is no question at the moment of us withdrawing heavy weapons," spokesman Vladyslav Seleznyov said. "How can we pull back weapons if the rebels are trying to attack us with tanks, and are constantly firing at us?"
Another military spokesman, Dmytro Chaly, separately told AFP that at least five Ukrainian soldiers had been killed and 22 wounded in the town of Shyrokine by rebel fire since the ceasefire started early Sunday. The town is near the coastal city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian government officials said the rebels were keeping up shelling of Debaltseve, a strategic town that serves as a railway hub linking the main insurgent-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east. Thousands of government troops are in the town, which is mostly surrounded by rebels.
New EU sanctions hit two Russian deputy defence ministers: official
The EU's Official Journal named Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov and first Deputy Minister of Defence Arkady Bakhin for supporting Russian troop deployments in Ukraine.
Among three other Russians named were Joseph Kobzon and Valery Rashkin, members of the Duma (parliament).
The EU listed 14 Ukrainians, all military or political figures in the self-declared republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, alongside nine entities.
EU foreign ministers agreed the sanctions late last month after deadly attacks on the key port city of Mariupol killed more than 30 civilians but suspended their application as France and German led last ditch efforts to secure a Ukraine ceasefire.
EU leaders then decided at a summit Thursday to go ahead with the sanctions because, irregardless of the new peace effort, they were meant to punish those implicated in the Mariupol attacks.
Publication of the names in the Official Journal puts the sanctions into effect.
The latest additions bring the total to 151 individuals and 37 entities.
Brussels first imposed targeted sanctions on individuals after Russia's annexation of Crimea in March 2014 but adopted tougher economic measures after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.
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