BREAKING: US Amb. to UN Haley: "I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia" in eastern Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/rj7YQURxNO
— NBC Nightly News (@NBCNightlyNews) February 2, 2017
The Daily Beast reports: Why is the war in Ukraine suddenly going from frozen conflict to scorcher? Is this Vladimir Putin’s way of testing Donald Trump, not two full weeks into his job as U.S. president, or is it just another provocation designed to keep Kiev weak and insecure after three years of invasion, annexation and occupation?
True, fighting has continued more or less constantly in east Ukraine, the industrial heartland known as the Donbass, ever since the fighting was meant to have stopped as a result of not one but two cease-fire agreements. But this week it escalated in a dramatic fashion, and with clear signs of Kremlin support. Into the fray on the pro-Russian separatists’ side have come heavy-duty armaments such as Grad rockets and the Buk missile system which shot down MH17. (And there’s only one place where the separatists can get this stuff). Also, Ukrainian soldiers are receiving ominous text messages on their cell phones, redolent of the kind of cyber-ops used against them before in the war, the technology and operators of which have been linked to Russian military intelligence hacking of the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s emails.
According to Ukrainian official reports, at least 12 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and 57 wounded since Sunday, along with civilian killed and five wounded. The Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk report at least nine of their fighters and five civilians dead, though it must always be cautioned that the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic has form for exaggerating or even outright fabricating reports of civilian casualties. Nevertheless the fighting is the worst seen in an urban area in well over a year. [Continue reading…]