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Ukraine, separatists trade blame after shelling hits village kindergarten

Ukraine accused Russian-backed rebels Thursday of shelling a border village as both sides lobbed charges that the other was violating a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, a flashpoint between Kiev and Moscow since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

Kiev called the shelling of Stanytsia Luhanska a “provocation” and tied it to Russia massing more than 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border in recent months.

Russian state-backed media claimed Ukrainian forces fired shells into territory held by Kremlin-backed separatists in violation of a 2015 cease-fire.

The students at Fairy Tale Kindergarten were finishing breakfast when their building was hit. An artillery round struck the sports room, scattering soccer balls and skipping ropes, even as it failed to explode on impact. A second shell, most likely mortar round, landed near the climbing equipment in the playground outside. 

The swift action by the staff at Fairy Tale Kindergarten likely saved lives of both the staff and students.

Natalia Slesareva, who works as cleaning staff at the kindergarten, said a “nightmare” was avoided because the children were not in the sports hall when it was hit. “We got used to hearing shooting nearby, but this is the first time they hit our building,” said the 54-year-old.

Yulia Semenenko, a 33-year-old teacher, said: “It was terrible, even though the kids were very calm when it was happening. The kids who understood that war was happening were in shock.”

The Ukrainian Joint Forces Operation denied the accusations and asserted that the rebels attacked the village, with at least two shells damaging a kindergarten building.

“Ukrainian Stanytsia Luhanska village was shelled with heavy weapons from the occupied territory of the Donbas. Civilian infrastructure damaged,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a Twitter post. 

“We call on all partners to swiftly condemn this severe violation of Minsk agreements by Russia amid an already tense security situation,” he said. 

“With particular cynicism, the Russian occupation troops shelled the village of Stanytsa Lugansk in the Luhansk region,” the Ukrainian military said. “As a result of the use of heavy artillery weapons by terrorists, shells hit the kindergarten building. According to preliminary data, two civilians received shell shock.” 

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recorded multiple shelling incidents in eastern Ukraine early Thursday.

A top Ukrainian government official told Reuters that the shelling at the cease-fire line surpasses the level of breaches previously reported during the long-running conflict. “It is not typical. It looks a lot like a provocation,” the source said.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK POST

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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