On Aug. 31 Alexander Zakharchenko was killed in a blast in a café in Donetsk, Ukraine, where he was meeting with other members of the self-proclaimed government of the Donetsk Republic.
Everyone seems to be blaming everyone else for the incident. No one is taking responsibility. Yet every side has a reason to accuse others. Russian President Putin described the act as “dastardly,” but he hasn’t outwardly accused Kiev of plotting this attack. However, the Russian foreign ministry has, “there is every reason to believe the Kiev regime is behind the murder,” said spokesperson Maria Zacharova.
In Russia, some say that Zakharchenko may have fallen out of favor with the country’s leadership, and so that it was the FSB’s doing.
In the Donetsk separatist camp, there is infighting between the various rebel groups. Some, then, say that this infighting led to his assassination. Former separatist leaders have already fled in fear of their lives.
In August, Ukraine lost five soldiers in the Luhansk region to Russian backed rebels and separatists. Russian ships, moreover, have started harassing Ukrainian ships in the sea of Azov. This led the U.S. State Department to issue a statement and warning.
“The United States condemns Russia’s harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait. Russia has delayed hundreds of commercial vessels since April and in recent weeks has stopped at least 16 commercial ships attempting to reach Ukrainian ports. Russia’s actions to impede maritime transit are further examples of its ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine, as well as its disregard for international norms. The United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. We call on Russia to cease its harassment of international shipping in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait,” said Heather Nauert, acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.
Ukraine has appealed to the international community, but there isn’t much that can be done about this region, mainly because of a 2003 agreement that allows the lawful detention of Ukrainian vessels. So technically speaking Russia, does not seem to be breaking any international laws or treaties. But this does look like an underhanded way of harassing the Ukrainian ships and local fishing industries.
In response, Russia has stated that Ukraine has repeatedly harassed its fishing vessels from the Crimea and has been harassing its ships and ships operating in the area as well as shutting off water to the Crimean Peninsula.