Crisis: Ukraine officials come under shelling attack on front

Crisis: Ukraine officials come   under shelling attack on front

Moscow: Top Ukrainian military officials came under a shelling attack during a tour of the front of the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The officials fled to a bomb shelter before hustling from the area, according to journalist from The Associated Press who was on the tour.

Earlier Saturday, separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine ordered a full military mobilization Saturday amid a spike of violence in the war-torn region and fears in the West that Russia might use the strife as a pretext for an invasion.

Ukraine and the two regions held by the Russia-backed rebels each accused the other of escalation. Russia on Saturday said at least two shells fired from a government-held part of eastern Ukraine landed across the border.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba dismissed the claim as a fake statement . Ukraine's military said shelling killed a soldier early Saturday in the government-held part of the Donetsk region and that separatist forces

were placing artillery in residential areas to try and provoke a response.

On Friday, the rebels began evacuating civilians to Russia with an announcement that appeared to be part of their and Moscow's efforts to paint Ukraine as the aggressor.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Friday he's convinced that Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch a further invasion in Ukraine, including an assault on its capital, Kyiv, as tensions spiked along the militarized border with attacks that the West called false-flag operations meant to establish a pretext for invasion.

On Friday, a humanitarian convoy was hit by shelling and pro-Russian rebels evacuated civilians from the conflict zone. A car bombing hit the eastern city of Donetsk, but no casualties were reported.

After weeks of saying the US wasn't sure if Putin had made the final decision to launch a widespread invasion, Biden said that assessment had changed, citing the Americans's "significant intelligence capability." "As of this moment I'm convinced he's made the decision," Biden said. "We have reason to believe that." He reiterated that it could occur in the "coming days."

Meanwhile, the Kremlin announced massive nuclear drills to flex its military muscle, and Putin pledged to protect Russia's national interests against what it sees as encroaching Western threats.

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