Ukraine battles rebels, Russian forces join them

Ukrainian forces report 64 rebel attacks on Sunday, worried about gathering Russian forces in rebel territory.

Rachel Kaplan ,

Ukrainian troops on front-line August, 2016
Ukrainian troops on front-line August, 2016

Ukraine has reported raids by Russian-backed rebel forces, amid fears that Russia is gathering more troops along their de facto border.

Ukrainian forces in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk announced on Facebook that rebels opened fire 64 times on Sunday. The rebels also attempted to take over a military checkpoint in Luhansk.

“Around 10:10 a.m., from the side of the populated settlement of Kalynove, an enemy reconnaissance, saboteur group of three to six people neared within 100 meters and opened fire from large caliber guns and small arms,” the military statement read.

“Combat lasted 20 minutes. The enemy sustained casualties and retreated.”

28 of the 64 incidents occurred in the port city of Mariupol, in Donetsk. Pro-Russian rebels have been fighting for Mariupol since 2014.

Russian-backed separatists have held chunks of eastern Ukraine since 2014; they have neither significantly advanced nor receded over the course of 2016.

Although Russian troops have been sighted among the rebels, Russia claims that members of its military fighting for the rebels are there independently, and not under official orders. However, evidence, such as an August 7th video of a Russian military convoy moving northwest from Kerch, in the rebel-held Crimean Peninsula, suggests otherwise.