Russian-backed separatists used tanks and mortars on Monday to target government structures near the eastern port of Mariupol, Ukraine. The clashes have violated the month-old ceasefire and have been continuing for several hours.
The Agence France-Presse reports that the underlying tension despite a vulnerable truce was apparent when Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the casualty figures. He claimed 1,549 soldiers were killed since the war started eleven months ago. However, according to the United Nations, more than 6,000 people have already perished in skirmishes among the Ukrainians and pro-Russian rebels.
After the ceasefire took effect, the Ukrainian president claimed a casualty of 64 soldiers, indicating an ineffective truce.
Mariupol under fire
Four Ukrainian soldiers were wounded after the ceasefire violation, according to Oleg Sushinky, a military spokesman.
Mariupol, under siege from the rebels, is a steel-making city with a population of 500,000. The strategic importance of the city makes it a lucrative target for the rebels.
NATO has decided to play war games, dubbed the Operation Atlantic Resolve, in the Baltic region with former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
— US Mission to NATO (@USNATO) March 9, 2015
On Monday, the U.S. announced it had successfully delivered more than 100 pieces of equipment that will used for the exercises in the Baltic states.