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Ukrainian Armed Forces Preparing New Offensive in Donbas

© Sputnik / Viktor Tolochko / Go to the photo bankRepresentative of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) Vladislav Deinego
Representative of the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR) Vladislav Deinego - Sputnik International
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Luhansk People's Republic's envoy at the Minsk talks claims that Kiev forces are preparing a new offensive in the southeast of Ukraine.

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces drive armored vehicles in the town of Volnovakha, eastern Ukraine, January 18, 2015. - Sputnik International
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MINSK, February 1 (Sputnik) – Kiev forces are preparing a new offensive in the southeast of Ukraine (Donbas), the envoy of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) at the Minsk talks on Ukrainian reconciliation has announced.

"Right now, there is information from the intelligence and the prisoners [Ukrainian soldiers] on the preparation of another attack," Vladislav Deinego said Saturday.

The LPR envoy stressed that this information has provoked the militias in the southeast of the country to "push Ukrainian artillery away from the residential areas".

On Friday, envoys of the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DPR and LPR) issued a joint statement saying they are ready to announce a ceasefire and pull back heavy weaponry to positions agreed in a reconciliation memorandum only if Kiev does the same.

"If the negotiation process fails and shelling of residential areas in DPR and LPR continues, we reserve the right to continue our offensive until the territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are freed," the statement stressed.

On Saturday, a Contact Group meeting on Ukrainian reconciliation held in the Belarusian capital Minsk ended with no substantial results. Denis Pushilin, DPR envoy at the Contact Group talks, said that the sides only managed to "exchange stances".

Vladislav Deinego, representative of the separatist self-proclaimed Luhansk republic - Sputnik International
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Fighting between DPR and LPR militia and Kiev forces, which launched a military operation against independence supporters in Ukraine's southeast last spring, intensified at the beginning of this year, despite the ceasefire agreement that the sides reached in September, 2014.

According to DPR, following a battle between Kiev-led forces and local militia for the Donetsk airport in early January more than 30 civilians, including children, were killed in the town of Horlivka in the Donetsk region in a series of airstrikes carried out by Ukrainian warplanes.

A rocket attack on a bus in the town of Volnovakha, also located in the Donetsk region, claimed the lives of 13 civilians on January 13. Later in the month, at least eight people were killed in the shelling of a trolleybus stop in the city of Donetsk and 30 others were killed in the shelling of the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine.

According to the most recent UN data, more than 5,000 people have died in Ukraine since mid-April, 2014, as a result of the ongoing fighting.

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