A Ukrainian flag is seen behind a cannon near the village of Luhanske, eastern Ukraine, in late February. (AP / Evgeniy Maloletka)

Civilians are fleeing parts of east Ukraine as fighting there reaches its worst point since a shaky cease-fire was established in February.

The Guardian reports:

Another Ukrainian soldier was killed this weekend bringing the death toll in the past week to eight, with another 40 wounded in attacks in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russia separatists, the most intense clashes since the ceasefire agreed in Minsk.

Even if the conflict does not escalate again into war, civilians are continuing to flee the conflict area, adding to the country’s humanitarian crisis. More than 1.2 million people have been internally displaced by the conflict, which has killed more than 6,200 since April 2014.

A representative of Kiev’s “anti-terrorist operation” said on Saturday that eight soldiers had been wounded in one 24-hour period at the end of last week. The day before, two Ukrainian service personnel were killed and a further two wounded. …

Any large campaign by the rebels would almost surely require the support of the Russian military, which has reportedly kept up a flow of ammunition to eastern Ukraine and deployed troops to lead key operations there. Such a move could provoke a response from Nato and the US. Russia’s economy is already sagging under western sanctions and low oil prices. Legislation passed by the US House of Representatives this week would allocate $200m (£132m) for the lethal weapons that Barack Obama has so far been unwilling to give Ukraine.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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