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2 Ukrainian troops killed in fresh scuffles with pro-Russia forces

Ukrainian servicemen with their 122 mm MLRS BM-21 Grad prepare to change position during military exercises at a shooting range close to Devichiki in the Kiev region on October 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The latest outburst of fighting with pro-Russia forces has claimed the lives of two Ukrainian servicemen in the country’s volatile eastern area.

Ukrainian military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said the soldiers were killed on Friday amid renewed clashes along the frontline with the territory held by the pro-Russians.

The deaths were the first Ukrainian losses for nearly two weeks.

Meanwhile, monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) confirmed an upsurge of violence around the city of Lugansk, the administrative center of a region with the same name, over the past two weeks.

The monitors further said that they were "saddened to see how little had changed" since December 2016, when the warring sides to the Ukraine conflict agreed to an "indefinite" ceasefire.

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Pro-Russia forces walk in Debaltseve in Ukraine’s Donetsk region. (Photo by AP)

"We have confirmed at least five civilian fatalities compared to 19 for all of 2016," said Alexander Hug, the OSCE deputy mission head.

Ukraine’s Donbass region - the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk - has witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army since in April 2014, when Kiev launched military operations to crush pro-Moscow protests there. 

The crisis has left almost 10,000 people dead on both sides.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine and the March 2014 reintegration of the Black Sea Crimean Peninsula into the Russian Federation have pushed relations between Moscow and the West to their lowest level since the Cold War as the latter supports Kiev.

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