World

Ukrainian military says rebels attacks diminish, but not yet a cease-fire

  • A Ukrainian soldier stands atop a military vehicle near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Ukraine delayed a promised pullback of heavy weapons from the front line Monday in eastern Ukraine, blaming continuing attacks from separatist rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

    A Ukrainian soldier stands atop a military vehicle near Artemivsk, eastern Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 23, 2015. Ukraine delayed a promised pullback of heavy weapons from the front line Monday in eastern Ukraine, blaming continuing attacks from separatist rebels. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ukrainian armored vehicles drive near the village of Luhanske, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Ukrainian officials said they haven’t yet started pulling heavy weapons back from a frontline in eastern Ukraine because of continued rebel violations of a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

    Ukrainian armored vehicles drive near the village of Luhanske, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Ukrainian officials said they haven’t yet started pulling heavy weapons back from a frontline in eastern Ukraine because of continued rebel violations of a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)  (The Associated Press)

  • Ukrainian troops ride on a tank near the village of Luhanske, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Ukrainian officials said they haven’t yet started pulling heavy weapons back from a frontline in eastern Ukraine because of continued rebel violations of a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

    Ukrainian troops ride on a tank near the village of Luhanske, eastern Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Ukrainian officials said they haven’t yet started pulling heavy weapons back from a frontline in eastern Ukraine because of continued rebel violations of a cease-fire deal. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)  (The Associated Press)

Ukraine's military says rebel violations of a cease-fire in the country's east are persisting, but have fallen off in recent days.

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Anatoliy Stelmakh told a briefing Wednesday that Russian-backed rebels shelled the village of Popasna twice during the night and also continued trying to overrun Ukrainian positions at the village of Shyrokyne, near the strategic port city of Mariupol.

In all, 19 artillery and mine attacks were recorded, he said.

"For a second day, we observe a reduction in shelling," Stelmakh said. "But the last day was not a cease-fire."

Ukraine says it will not begin a pullback of heavy weapons under a peace deal until the cease-fire firmly takes hold. Rebels said Tuesday they were beginning a pullback. The claim could not be confirmed.