Fighting in eastern Ukraine has flared up again, which the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine described as a “hot war” after a recent uptick in violence led to 11 people being killed over the course of the last week.
“This is not a frozen conflict, this is a hot war and it is an immediate crisis that we all need to address as quickly as possible,” State Department special envoy Kurt Volker said while in the Donetsk region, according to Voice of America.
“It is truly a high degree of suffering, there was a high human cost to this conflict and that is another reason why it is so urgent that we address it,” he said.
Only recently appointed, Volker is responsible for negotiations between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists operating in the country’s east. A ceasefire has technically been in effect since 2015, but intermittent fighting has still occurred over the last two years.
After months of protracted talks, the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk was brought back into the spotlight after rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko declared Donetsk as independent of Ukraine last week. Called “Malorossiya,” the new ‘state’ plans on enveloping the remainder of Ukraine, although rebel leadership in Luhansk is not on board with such a declaration.
Six Ukrainian soldiers were killed in an artillery attack in Donetsk, and three more died after the vehicle they were riding in struck a mine near Luhansk.
The United States, NATO, and the EU continue to blame Russian support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine for the ongoing violence. They say Russian troops and military hardware have flowed across their border into eastern Ukraine since the conflict began, the evidence for which has been well documented. Russia denies the allegations of military support, but openly supports the rebels’ political objectives.
With on-and-off fighting between rebels and the Ukrainian military, and no real politically palatable resolution in sight, the conflict has reached a sort of impasse. The United States plans to hit Russia with further economic sanctions this week, at least in part due to their actions in Ukraine.
Image by Mstyslav Chernov at https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41733051