Ukraine is teetering on the brink of war again

The September 6 ceasefire that supposedly halted the war in eastern Ukraine has never actually been implemented in practice, but the low-level violence that’s been ongoing since then is now threatening to escalate back into full-scale war. The flashpoint is Donetsk’s international airport, which has been contested by Kiev and the rebels since late May of last year.

Yesterday the rebels announced that they’d taken control over the entire airport, which the Ukrainian government denied. After more fighting, the rebels again claimed to have taken the airport today, and were at the very least able to raise their flag over the main terminal building. It still doesn’t appear that they have full control over the airport, and there’s reportedly a crowd demonstrating in Kiev to force the government to either relieve or evacuate the remaining Ukrainian soldiers (known as “Cyborgs”) before they’re overrun.

Kiev claims that the rebels are being led and supplied by Russia, of course, which Moscow denies, of course. They may both be right; there are reports that the rebels are using weaponry that they almost certainly would have to have obtained from Russia, but at the same time Moscow has been publicly calling for an end to the fighting in advance of peace talks that were supposed to take place in Minsk today. In fact, the renewed fighting caused the planned talks to collapse, and this comes after another proposed conference, which was to have been held yesterday in Kazakhstan between Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine, was called off last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, due, again, to the escalating fighting.

Rebel leaders are promising to press their offensive to recover territory that was lost to government forces last year, which would mean a resumption of the civil war in full. The rebels blame Kiev (of course) for attacks that have killed civilians in and around Donetsk, but a representative from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe blamed the rebels (of course) for launching its own attacks from within civilian areas, thereby drawing Ukrainian counterattacks that inevitably kill civilians. If that argument doesn’t really fly for Israel in Gaza (and I don’t really think it does), then it probably shouldn’t fly here.


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