Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported further ceasefire violations in the east, following a day of heavy weapons fire on Saturday.
The ministry said that in the first 11 hours of Sunday, “20 incidents of ceasefire violations by Russian occupation forces were observed, including 18 incidents when Russian occupation forces used weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements”.
The Minsk II agreement led to an uneasy ceasefire between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatist forces, and banned heavy weapons near the line of contact between the two sides.
Ukraine said it recorded a total of 136 ceasefire violations on Saturday.
Ukrainian border guards said that due to the bombardment, a crossing point for international humanitarian organizations, Shchastia, on the line of contact, had been closed since Sunday at 8:00 a.m. local time. A UNHCR convoy that used the crossing on Friday said it was caught in the crossfire.
Some residents of Donetsk, controlled by pro-Russian separatists, reported heavy shelling on Sunday morning. A woman contacted by CNN said she and her children wanted to move closer to the city center because of shelling in her neighborhood, Abakumova.
I can’t survive another night like this. I’m really scared,” she said.
We don’t know where the bombardment came from. Authorities in the breakaway republics persistently claim that Ukrainian forces shelled, who in turn regularly deny firing artillery across the front lines.
The woman also told CNN that on Saturday her neighbors left for Russia and were housed somewhere near Rostov-on-Don in a tent camp.
Russian authorities say more than 40,000 people have arrived in Russia after being evacuated from the self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, according to the acting head of the Emergency Situations Ministry, Alexander Chupriyan.
“They are located mainly in the Rostov region,” Chupriyan said.
CNN is unable to independently verify numbers crossing into Russia.
Rostov Region Governor Vasily Gobulev announced a state of emergency in the region on Saturday to deal with the influx.
The evacuation of civilians was ordered on Friday by the leaders of the breakaway republics, when they alleged that the Ukrainian armed forces were planning an offensive against the regions. Ukraine has always denied any plans to attack the regions, which represent about 7% of Ukrainian territory.
Russia’s investigative committee said it was opening an investigation into media reports of deaths from shelling in the Luhansk region. In a statement, the committee said: “The media reported that this morning the armed forces of Ukraine tried to attack the positions of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, while, according to preliminary data, there there are casualties among the civilian population.”