Full-scale war has returned to eastern Ukraine in the last three weeks, claiming the lives of at least 21 Ukrainian soldiers and leaving 138 injured. On the morning of Feb. 9, the Ukrainian army reported that its positions in the Donbas were attacked more than 80 times in the past 24 hours.
The deadliest flare-up in fighting in the Donbas started on Jan. 30, when Russian-backed separatists started shelling Ukrainian positions in the government-held city of Avdiyivka in Donetsk Oblast, some 700 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. The attacks involved Grad rockets, a heavy weapon banned from use under the Minsk agreements, and were the bloodiest ones in 2017, killing 11 Ukrainian soldiers, according to the Ukrainian military.
International monitors with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have indicated there were at least 63 civilian casualties – 12 deaths and 51 injuries – in the first month of the year, including 48 (7 deaths, 41 injured) between Jan. 29 and Feb. 2. These casualties were caused mainly by shelling from artillery, tanks and multiple rocket launchers.