Thursday 14 December 2017

Flare-up in Ukraine's 'frozen conflict' as Poroshenko and Putin seek to test limits of new US foreign policy

For Mr Putin, there is a much more important goal than lifting sanctions: establishing a pro-Russian government in Kiev
For Mr Putin, there is a much more important goal than lifting sanctions: establishing a pro-Russian government in Kiev

Leonid Bershidsky

The frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine has flared up again because both the Kremlin and the Kiev government are, to some extent, interested in the escalation as they try to achieve their political goals in a world shaken by Donald Trump's approach to guiding US foreign policy.

In the past week, full-force fighting broke out in the vicinity of government-controlled Avdiivka and neighbouring Yasynuvata, held by the Russian-backed separatists.

Residential areas were shelled, and Avdiivka lost power and heating, creating a humanitarian disaster in bitter midwinter cold. Civilians have died. Each side blamed the other for the escalation. The Russian version, pushed by Kremlin propaganda outlets, is that the Ukrainian troops attempted to seize some neutral territory along the separation line. The Ukrainian one is that the pro-Russian side attacked a government-held commanding height.

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