Russian investigators say a five-year-old boy was killed during an attack by Ukrainian government forces.
Moscow announced on Monday that Russian investigators were investigating the death of a five-year-old boy killed by Ukrainian government forces amid rising tensions in Ukraine’s conflict-torn east.
The Russian Investigative Committee, which investigated major crimes, said the Ukrainian army had violated the ceasefire agreement on Friday and attacked civilian infrastructure in Oleksandrios using heavy weapons and drones.
The village belongs to the self-proclaimed isolated Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).
Russia’s Tass news agency said the boy had been killed after Ukrainian troops dropped an explosive device with a drone on Saturday.
The investigation committee said in a statement that a five-year-old child was killed and his 66-year-old grandmother was injured in the blast.
In another incident, a 46-year-old resident of the village of Mykolaiva in the separatist-self-proclaimed Lugansk republic was injured in an explosion, investigators said.
Russia has accused Ukraine of violating the ceasefire
The allegations come amid fears of a long-running escalation of the conflict in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
Ukrainian government forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists in the region since 2014, when Moscow became embroiled in the Crimean peninsula after ousting Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.
A report by the DPR news agency did not provide any images after the attack on Oleksandrovsky – about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from the front line – and the claim could not be independently verified.
But on Monday, Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he did not see any reason to suspect the death of the five-year-old, although the Kremlin did not have “verified information.”
“Of course it would be hard to imagine that they would use the death of a child to spread fake news,” Peskov told reporters.
He again accused Kiev of violating the peace agreement and called the deaths and injuries of civilians “bitter consequences” of a conflict that is still unresolved.
Moscow-Washington communication on Ukraine
In a separate development Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Moscow and Kiev, the most powerful allies of Russia since the annexation of Crimea, had the highest level of communication on the situation in Ukraine.
U.S. forces in Europe last week raised their cautious stance following “the recent expansion of Russia’s aggression in eastern Ukraine.”
Washington has promised to stand by Kiev in the event of any conflict in Moscow, which denies being a partner in the conflict.
Ryabkov said Russia had assured the United States that there was no cause for concern.
His remarks echoed earlier remarks by the Kremlin, which said last week that Russia’s military action near its shared border with Ukraine posed no threat.
Moscow has also warned NATO against troop deployments in the region, saying the move would only escalate tensions after the security alliance expressed concern over what a large Russian military said near the Ukrainian border.
Kiev has also accused Russia of building a military presence on the shared border.