The ceasefire reached Friday between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russia forces occupying areas in the country's east appears to have shattered Saturday evening after holding for barely 29 hours, after Ukrainian positions were shelled on the outskirts of the southeastern port city of Mariupol, destroying at least one vehicle and setting a fuel station ablaze.
VICE News was on the ground when explosions went off in the area of military checkpoint "East" along the road leading to Novoazovsk, a city 25-miles away from Mariupol that was captured by pro-Russia forces last week. Fires caused by the attack raged on both sides of the road, and a damaged propane tank spewed flames into the night sky.
Separatists forces and Russian troops were targeting Ukrainian tanks just outside of the city, a Ukrainian soldier who went by the call sign "Chekh" told VICE News, but he added that none were hit. The sound of a barrage from a Grad multiple rocket-launcher could also be heard in the early hours of Sunday.
It was impossible to verify which units where responsible for the breach of the ceasefire on Saturday.
Photos by Frederick Paxton
Pro-Russia forces made significant advances across eastern Ukraine in August, sending troops loyal to Kiev into a disorganized and deadly retreat, in which hundreds may have died. The Ukrainian military has blamed the rebels' recent successes on Russia, which it accuses of arming and backing the separatists, as well as being directly involved in fighting in eastern Ukraine — a claim supported by NATO, which has said that more than 1,000 Russian troops are now operating inside Ukraine's borders. Military officials in Kiev have claimed that the number could be even higher at between 3,000 and 4,000.
At a landmark meeting in Belarus on Friday — which brought together representatives from Moscow, Kiev, and the rebel republics in Donetsk and Luhansk, alongside international watchdog the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Ukrainian government and pro-Russia rebels announced they had reached the ceasefire agreement. Points agreed on related to the exchange of prisoners, delivery of humanitarian aid to the areas affected by the conflict, and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from firing range of major cities.
The US and European Union have also pledged further sanctions against Russia if Moscow fails to pull back troops and heavy weaponry recently deployed to eastern Ukraine. Moscow has continuously denied it has sent forces into Ukraine.
VICE News' Harriet Salem and Liz Fields contributed to this report.
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