Ukraine’s military confirmed Wednesday that one of its soldiers was killed the previous day in an attack by pro-Russian separatists in its conflict-ridden eastern Donbas region.
“A battery of D-30 howitzers of the Russian terrorist forces fired on positions of the Joint Forces in the area of the settlement of Hranitne. Two servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were wounded during the shelling and one of them was killed. With the start of the shelling, a cease-fire was immediately demanded through the OSCE SMM - Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and a note was sent through diplomatic channels. However, the occupiers did not react,” the Ukrainian Armed Forces said in a statement.
It was reported that the separatists violated the cease-fire nine times as of 5 p.m., starting from midnight using cannons, grenade launchers and machine guns.
The separatists opened fire in the Hranitne, Novotoskivske, Luganske, Lebedinske and Shirokine regions of Donbas.
Also, another soldier suffered injuries.
In response to the separatist attacks, Ukrainian forces destroyed artillery in their first use of a Turkish Bayraktar unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV).
''In order to force the enemy into a cease-fire, a Bayraktar drone was used by the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The unmanned aerial vehicle did not cross the line of contact and destroyed one gun of the crew of the Russian occupation forces with a guided bomb,'' said the statement.
Footage published on the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Facebook page showed the Bayraktar TB2 drone targeting and shooting a Soviet-era howitzer it identified as the pro-Russian forces’ D-30. After that, the shelling of Ukrainian positions stopped.
The Bayraktar TB2 UCAV’s capability in the field has been proven several times both by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the armies of the countries that have acquired the drone.
The Bayraktar TB2 has been sold to countries including Ukraine, Qatar, Azerbaijan and Poland. In May, Poland became the first European Union and NATO member state to acquire drones from Turkey.
- Donbas crisis
Demonstrations erupted in the capital Kyiv on Nov. 21, 2013 after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych did not sign the European Union Association Agreement.
After Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014, the demonstrations grew, and pro-Russian separatists declared their so-called independence in the cities of Donetsk and Lugansk in the eastern part of the country.
More than 13,000 people lost their lives in clashes between the separatists and the Kyiv government since 2014.
At least 57 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the start of the year compared with 50 in all of 2020.