In Ukraine’s post cease-fire atmosphere the world has seen not only a continuance of violence, but also an exchange of captives and reports of an influx of heavy Russian military machinery into the area. This all comes after peace talks that many thought would be the end to this struggle between Ukraine and Russia. It now looks as though the peace talks that were conducted last week were another demonstration that individuals who are in the position to make changes were unable to deter the militants in the area from fighting.
Thursday, it was reported by Kiev officials, that Ukrainian troops retreated from Debaltseve after forces killed another 13 and injured another 157. Additionally, on Sunday in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, a bomb was detonated killing two and injuring another 12. The interior ministry notes that this attack marked the one-year anniversary of President Viktor Yanukovych ouster.
Aid to head of Ukraine’s SBU security, Markian Lubkiskyi, informed Ukriane’s 112 Television station that this bombing, the most recent violence in this post cease-fire activity, was carried-out by Ukrainians. He went on to explain that these individuals were trained and equipped by the Russian Federation. This complicates matters as the borders of these two nations become more blurred as the conflict continues in Ukraine. It has also been reported that 44 attacks have occurred in the past 24 hours in the conflict zone near Mariupol.
The two sides have demonstrated some effort in keeping communication open. There was an exchange of prisoners on Thursday. Ukraine President Poroshenko posted on his Facebook that 139 soldiers were released in exchange for 54 rebel soldiers. Many of the separatists released had been captured during the intense fighting near Donestk. Poroshenko’s aid said that more soldiers should be released in coming days. Some of the terms of release included the withdrawal of criminal charges, which was a term of the original cease-fire protocol for participants in this conflict. This exchange is a sign that each side is cooperating with each other to a certain extent even as shelling continues elsewhere.
Even amongst this show of cooperation in Ukraine there was a report that on Saturday a Russian train delivering 60 heavy armored vehicles to the town of Amvrosiivka. There may have also been a later convoy of Russian supplied military equipment to Novoazovk. These supplies are being shipped to the area just east of Mariupol. This city is a vital port city for Russians due to its linking Russia with Crimea through Ukraine along the Sea of Azov.
This post cease-fire activity in Ukraine indicates that the peace talks that have been conducted are not effective. Ukraine Prime Minster Arseniy Yatsenyuk has commented that there is no cease-fire. A sentiment obviously felt by many. He also expressed the feeling that the U.S. should become more involved because the U.S. supports nations globally who are fighting for their independence, and this what Ukraine is currently doing against Russia. The U.S. has indicated that they will send forces to train Ukrainian troops in the spring. In coming months, as President Barack Obama considers increased sanctions, it will be seen whether the U.S. and Germany begin to engage more fully in this conflict.
By Joel Wickwire