A CNN team and other journalists accompanying Ukraine’s interior minister on a tour of the front lines in eastern Ukraine came under mortar fire Saturday.
No one was injured.
Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy sought cover as several mortar rounds landed nearby. Shortly after the shelling, he gave interviews to international media in Novoluhanske.
About a dozen mortar rounds landed within a few hundred meters of the group.
Speaking to CNN prior to leaving the area, Monastyrskiy said, “We spoke with soldiers on the ground. The spirit is incredibly brave and all guys are ready for any scenario.”
He said that it had been his first time under fire. He told reporters that he was in the car en route and they had to stop every time they heard shelling and lay on the ground.
At a news conference later in Kramatorsk, Monastyrskiy was asked by CNN what role Ukraine believed that Russian military advisers were playing in the fighting in the eastern part of the country.
"We have information about the advance of the Russian army along our territory," he said. "There is also information that certain units of the Wagner PMC have entered our territory. The purpose of the stay is to organize sabotage in our territory."
Some background: Wagner is a private Russian paramilitary force that has long been associated with the separatists in eastern Ukraine and has also deployed to Libya, Syria and the Central African Republic, among other countries.
The Russian government denies any connection with Wagner or other private military contractors.
Over the past few days, the Ukrainian armed forces have reported a surge in heavy weapons fire against Ukrainian positions along what is known as the line of contact.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said that through 17:00 local time (10 a.m. ET) Saturday, "70 violations of the ceasefire regime were recorded by the Russian occupation forces, 60 of which by using weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements."
The ministry also said that two Ukrainian serviceman were killed and four wounded on Saturday.
The Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov repeated in a Facebook post Saturday that Ukraine had no plans to launch an offensive against the breakaway regions, as claimed by the leaders of the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk republics.
"We do not plan any offensives, but we will not allow the firing on the positions of our troops and human settlements with impunity," Reznikov said.