Kiev says ready to return heavy weapons to frontline

Kiev, (IANS) The Ukrainian army stands ready to return its heavy weapons to the frontline in eastern regions if pro-independence rebels launch an offensive, government military spokesperson Andriy Lysenko said here on Tuesday.

“Our artillerymen are always on the alert, they are ready for a defensive fire,” Lysenko told reporters during a media briefing, Xinhua reported.

The Ukrainian side has pulled all of its heavy weapons away from the contact line with rebels under the Minsk ceasefire agreement, the spokesperson said, accusing insurgent forces of continuing to use artillery in their attacks.

Since Monday, two Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and five others wounded in the insurgent attacks, Lysenko added.

On June 3, the conflicting sides exchanged artillery rounds using heavy weapons, which are banned under the Minsk peace agreement, during a fighting near the frontline town of Mariynka.

Since then, the two sides have been accusing each other of preparing for an offensive and violating the four-month-old ceasefire reached in Minsk to end the conflict that claimed the lives of more than 6,400 people.

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