A key commander of the Russian-backed separatists in east Ukraine, Mikhail Tolstykh has been killed.
The military chief, better known by his nom de guerre, Givi, was killed in what the rebels called an ‘act of terror’ organised by the Ukrainian intelligence services. Kyiv has denied it was responsible.
According to local reports Givi died after a bomb exploded in his office. The separatists announced two days of mourning. A Kremlin spokesperson called the killing “an attempt to destabilise the situation” in eastern Ukraine.
Tolstykh had taken part in many battles in the self-proclaimed republic, playing a key role in the fight for Donetsk airport.
The conflict has claimed the lives of some 10,000 people since Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking eastern industrial regions began the conflict with Kyiv’s pro-Western government in 2014.