Four ballistic missiles were launched from Belarus into Ukraine, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Ukraine said Thursday.
The missiles were fired “in the south-west direction,” Valeriy Zaluzhny said in a statement on his social media account.
Donbas crisis and Russia's military intervention
Ukraine’s February 2014 “Maidan revolution” led to President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and a pro-Western government coming to power.
Russia then illegally annexed Crimea and separatists declared “independence” in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, both of which have large ethnic Russian populations.
Clashes took place between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian army. The 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements, signed in Moscow with the intervention of Western powers, tried to stop the conflict but cease-fire violations continued and as of February, 14,000 people had lost their lives in the conflict.
Late last year, Russia made headlines with the deployments of tens of thousands of troops on the border with Ukraine.
The US said Russia was preparing for an invasion but Moscow denied it. Despite the threat of Western sanctions, Moscow recognized the separatist governments in Donbas and on Feb. 24 it launched a military operation into Ukrainian territory.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the operation’s purpose is to protect people “subjected to genocide” by Kyiv and to “demilitarize and denazify” Ukraine.
He called on the Ukrainian army to lay down its arms.
*Writing by Zehra Nur DuzAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.