Ukraine says 8 troops killed in past day despite peace deal
MOSCOW (AP) Despite a peace deal and a looming cease-fire deadline, Ukraine said Friday that eight soldiers were killed and 34 wounded overnight.
Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Ukrainian army general staff, said in comments carried by Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Friday that much of the fighting had taken place in Debaltseve, a key transport hub that has been hotly contested in recent days.
The military report was for the 24 hours ending at 6 a.m.
Fourteen people were injured in fighting in the rebel stronghold of Donetsk in the 24 hours ending at 10 a.m. local time, according to municipal authorities.
The fighting has continued despite the agreement reached by leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk on Thursday. The leaders agreed to implement a cease-fire, set to take effect on Sunday, at one minute after midnight.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautiously described the agreement as "a glimmer of hope."
The cease-fire is to be monitored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's observer mission in Ukraine.
The next step, to begin on Monday, is to form a sizeable buffer zone between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed rebels. Each side is to pull heavy weaponry back from the front line, creating a zone roughly 30-85 miles (50-140 kilometers) wide, depending on the caliber of the weapons. The withdrawals are to be completed in two weeks.
Other thorny political questions, including a degree of autonomy for the disputed eastern regions, are to be settled by the end of the year.