February 21, 2022: -The Ukrainian government and Russian state-controlled media exchanged fresh accusations of ceasefire violations on the country’s eastern border on Friday.
On Friday, in a statement on Facebook, the Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation said 20 ceasefire violations had been recorded in eastern Ukraine as of 9 a.m. local time.
The JFO is alleging that 15 of those violations included the use of weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements that Russia, Ukraine, and pro-Moscow separatists signed in 2014 and 2015 to prevent a war in eastern Ukraine. No fatalities were reported.
Ukraine is also claiming that separatist forces were “placing their artillery systems near residential buildings.” The JFO added, “United forces control the situation and respond to potential threats from the enemy.”
Meanwhile, Russian state-controlled media agency RIA claimed that Ukrainian government forces had launched three shelling strikes against Russian-backed separatists.
CNBC was unable to verify either report. On Thursday, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said its mission in Ukraine had reported nearly 600 ceasefire violations in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, higher than the 153 violations reported during the previous period.
Near the Russian border, the east of Ukraine has long been the scene of low-level fighting. The OSCE has regularly reported violations of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine during the eight-year conflict, in which around 13,000 people have died.
Russian officials reports say that it circulated a document at the U.N. council meeting on Thursday. Reuters reported allegations that war crimes had been committed in Ukraine and accused the Ukrainian government of “exterminating the civilian population” in the east.
A U.S. official is dubbing those accusations as “categorically false,” according to Reuters.
The Ukrainian government and Russian state media made contradictory accusations regarding shelling strikes on Thursday, with a school and a kindergarten in eastern Ukraine being hit by attacks.
The U.S. warns that Russia could use false claims about the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for an invasion.
On Thursday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the shelling in eastern Ukraine was a “false flag operation designed to discredit the Ukrainians.” He warned that more of this was likely in the coming days.
In recent months, Russia has repeatedly denied that it intends to invade Ukraine, despite amassing over 150,000 troops, military hardware, and even fresh blood supplies.