Just a quick reminder for everyone in case the president declines to do so later this evening during his sixth State of the Union address: Two European powers are engaged in a dangerous and spiraling hot war on the continent.
In the last several days, a battle broke out between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian “separatists” for control over the airport in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Control over the airport has shifted back and forth over the course of the intense fighting which has resulted in an unknown but mounting number of casualties.
According to Ukrainian government source, the fighting became so severe at points that Russian regular forces (which Moscow claims are not inside Ukrainian borders) joined the fight.
Ukrainian soldiers came under attack from Russian regular forces in the north of the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.
“Heavy fighting is continuing near the (Ukrainian army) checkpoints 29 and 31,” the spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said, referring to a part of Luhansk region near the border with Russia.
“Ukrainian forces have stopped the advance of Russian troops … The situation in the conflict zone is serious but under our control,” he said at a special news briefing.
Donetsk is not the only part of eastern Ukraine in which the tempo of operations conducted by both sides of the nearly year-old conflict seem to be accelerating.
Civilians came into the cross fire on Monday when pro-Russian fighters and Ukrainian forces battled in the rebel-controlled city center of Donetsk, critically undermining hopes that an already shaky four-month-old truce agreement can be implemented.
Shells struck a hospital, wounding a doctor and five patients. A nearby university was also hit, sparking speculations that the target was the nearby rebel security ministry.
In the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, an explosion wounded 12 civilians around a courthouse where the trial of what Agence France-Presse describes as a “pro-Western militant” was under way. In the nearby city of Debaltseve, three people died and 12 were left wounded during an exchange of heavy artillery fire. Rebels purportedly launched attacks from residential areas, putting many civilians on the front line.
The renewed combat comes amid accusations that Russia has sent approximately 700 fresh fighters into Ukraine and ahead of a United Nations Security Council meeting that is slated to address the crisis in Europe on Wednesday.
Another line that is guaranteed not to make it into tonight’s State of the Union address is the fact that Russia recently sent a spy ship to dock in Havana harbor. It is the second time in less than one year in which Russia has sought to reignite its Cold War military partnership with Cuba, the communist prison nation that Obama will almost certainly claim is embracing Democratic reforms merely as a goodwill response to his unilateral diplomatic concessions.
Fortunately, our media will hold the president to account and will surely not allow him to gloss over the growing security threat posed by renewed cooperation between Moscow and its partner governments in the Caribbean and South America.
“It’s just the coolest thing,” CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield said while speaking with a network correspondent who was flanked by the threatening warship in port in the Cuban capital. “Say hi to them for me!”
Okay, maybe our media is asleep at the switch. The lesson here, I suppose, is to never underestimate the allure of complacency.