Following a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants in eastern and southern Ukraine, it briefly seemed as though some of the intensity of this dangerous European conflict had been depleted. The apparent withdrawal of some Russian support for the separatist rebels in East Ukraine allowed forces loyal to Kiev to retake some key cities, including the key pro-Russian stronghold of Sloviansk.
The last two days have shown, however, that this conflict is far from being resolved. The worst violence may be yet to come.
Overnight, the Russian foreign ministry claimed that a Ukrainian shell fell inside Russian territory and landed near a private home killing one and injuring two more. Russian territory has been hit by errant Ukrainian shells before, but this is the first time shells fired by Ukrainian forces have resulted in Russian deaths.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin described the reported incident as an “extremely dangerous escalation for Russian citizens on Russian territory”.
“The conversation with the Ukrainian side on this issue will be serious and tough.” he told Russian radio.
A foreign ministry statement warned of “irreversible consequences, the responsibility for which lies on the Ukrainian side”.
This follows one of the worst episodes of violence throughout the course of this conflict when 19 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in a July 11 rocket attack. That attack sparked broader clashes across the country.
“For every life of our soldiers the rebels will pay with tens and hundreds of their own. Not a single terrorist will escape responsibility, each will get his comeuppance,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in the wake of that attack.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that Russian forces have been heading toward the Ukrainian border and are even crossing the border.
This story via a Ukrainian source and translated via The Interpreter:
Russian Federation troops have penetrated three kilometers into the territory of Ukraine in Lugansk Region and organized an ambush there. Andrei Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian Council on National Security and Defense (CNSD), announced this, Channel 5 reported.
The conflict has taken a toll on Russia’s image around the world. Less than a year after President Barack Obama announced that he would work in conjunction with Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the ongoing civil war in Syria, Americans’ attitudes toward Putin and Russia are nearing all-time lows.
“Eighty percent of Americans said they had little or no confidence that Mr. Putin would do the right thing with his foreign policy, as did a majority of adults in every European country surveyed,” read a New York Times report on a recent Pew Research Center survey. Conversely, Putin enjoys the support of more than 80 percent of Russians for his handling of foreign affairs.