Earlier on Saturday, a ceasefire timed to the summer harvest has come into force in eastern Ukraine. This is the fourth attempt this year at forcing the warring parties to lay down their arms and allow a peaceful life to resume in the Donbass region, torn by more than three years of fighting.
“On 23 June an SMM patrol comprising two armored vehicles and six members was stationary in a residential area in government-controlled Zolote-4, approximately 300m north of the Zolote disengagement area (60km north-west of Lugansk)… At 10:38, in less than a minute, the patrol heard high-intensity outgoing small-arms fire (approximately 50 to 100 shots), two explosions assessed as outgoing mortar (82mm) fire, and three outgoing shots of automatic grenade launcher (AGS-type), all approximately 100m south-east. At 10:42, the SMM heard three to four bursts of heavy-machine-gun fire, followed by uncountable small-arms shots 150-200m south-east,” the press release read.
The pause in hostilities was brokered earlier this week by a trilateral contact group, composed of Russian, Ukrainian and OSCE mediators.
Officials in the breakaway Lugansk and Donetsk regions vowed to honor the pact. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko argued on Friday that no final deal had been made but added they would go along with the plan.