Military situation in eastern Ukraine worsens

Pro-Kyiv troops have sparked bloody clashes in recent weeks, according to RFE/RL. [MFA of Ukraine]

The Ukrainian foreign ministry expressed deep concern on Monday night (30 January) over the “intensification of the Russian-terrorist forces in Donbas”. Other reports, however, speak of a “creeping offensive” of Ukrainian forces in an attempt to create “new facts on the ground”.

According to a statement, for the last two days, Russian forces carried out massive attacks across the contact line using all available weapons, including Grad rockets, 122 mm and 152 mm artillery, 82 and 120mm mortars, and tanks, all of which are prohibited by the Minsk agreements. The Russian weapons killed 8 Ukrainian soldiers and have left 26 wounded, the statement adds.

Civilians threatened

Reports indicate that residential areas have been shelled.

“Two civilians have been wounded. The cities of Yasinovata and Avdiyivka were fully cut off from electricity by shelling. More than 400,000 peaceful civilians in the region have no access to water, electricity and heating. Given the harsh weather conditions and the continuing shelling by the militants, the humanitarian situation in the area continues to deteriorate,” the statement says.

According to the Ukrainian foreign ministry, “such actions of the Kremlin may qualify as a war crime, a gross violation of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, an unlawful, wanton and extensive destruction of property not justified by military necessity”.

Kyiv believes that the current escalation in Donbas is a clear indication of “Russia’s continued blatant disregard of its commitments under the Minsk agreements with a view of preventing the stabilisation of the situation and achieving any progress in the security and humanitarian spheres”.

Ukraine offensive?

Reports from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, however, paint a different picture.  They speak of a “creeping offensive” of Ukrainian forces trying to create “new facts on the ground”.

“In doing so, the pro-Kyiv troops have sparked bloody clashes with their enemy, which has reportedly made advances of its own – or tried to – in recent weeks,” writes Christopher Miller for RFE/RL, reporting from Novoluhanske.

The developments are taking place after US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a telephone conversation on 28 January and agreed to rebuild ties.

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Many fear that the US-Russia rapprochement could be at the expense of Ukraine.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to speak with Donald Trump tomorrow (28 January), a source said today (27 January), as rumours grow that the US president will lift the sanctions against Russia imposed over its intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.

The situation in Ukraine was at the top of the agenda in talks in Berlin yesterday between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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