A Ukrainian intelligence officer was killed in a car explosion in Mariupol on Friday.
Lieutenant Colonel Oleksandr Kharaberiush was deputy chief of Donetsk’s local counterintelligence unit, over which Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists have been fighting since 2014. Ukraine’s security service (SBU) was quick to blame the separatists.
“The SBU will punish the terrorists who blew up the car with the SBU officer in Mariupol as soon as possible,” the SBU statement said. Donetsk region police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said Kharaberiush, who was alone in the car, died instantly. No other information was made available.
On Monday, Ukraine’s news agency reported three Ukrainian servicemen and eight were wounded in Donbas in 24 hours. That came just days after former Russian parliamentarian Denis Voronenkov was murdered in Kiev (he was set to testify against Viktor Yanukovych, the former Kremlin-backed president of Ukraine).
Mariupol is a Sea of Azov port town, and one hit hard by the violence that has killed over 10,000 in Ukraine since April 2014. It was at one point controlled by separatists, but later retaken by Ukrainians. Since fighting began, the town’s population grew by over 100,000 (one in five in Mariupol is an inland refugee, of which there are 1.8 million in Ukraine).
Many believe Russia is angling to seize Mariupol to create a land bridge to the Crimean peninsula. The city has been seen as a bellwether for whether the Minsk agreements are being fully and properly implemented.
On Friday, Mariupol once again served as a reminder that they have not been.
Photo credit: ALEKSEY FILIPPOV/AFP/Getty Image