Ukrainian soldier killed in Donbas region: Defense Ministry

6 soldiers also wounded in attacks by pro-Russian separatists, ministry says.

Ukrainian soldier killed in Donbas region: Defense Ministry

A Ukrainian soldier was killed and six others wounded when pro-Russian separatists opened fire in the eastern Donbas region, the country’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.

In a statement, the ministry said that it recorded 96 cease-fire violations by the separatists in the region.

The ministry stressed that the pro-separatists used various types of heavy weapons including rockets, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, and mortars.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday announced that it was recognizing two eastern Ukrainian breakaway regions as “independent” states, along with sending in Russian forces to “maintain peace” there.

The announcements drew widespread global condemnation as violations of the UN Charter and international law, with Western countries announcing new sanctions on Russia.

In 2014, after invading Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, Moscow began to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine against the central government, a policy that it has maintained for the past seven years. The conflict has taken more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN.

Putin's latest moves follow Russia amassing some 100,000 troops and heavy equipment in and around its neighbor, with the US and Western countries accusing it of setting the stage for an invasion.

Russia has denied it is preparing an invasion and instead claims Western countries undermined its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.