In this past year, Russian forces have invaded Ukraine. Since then, thousands have died in this conflict. Over one million people have been forced from their homes, many of whom have sought refuge in other countries. To promote peace, a ceasefire was declared in February. Government officials in both countries hope to avoid a large scale military confrontation. When the ceasefire was given, intense negotiations allowed more freedoms to the areas held by pro-Russian rebels, such as self-rule. These rights have been declared in an effort to discourage violence from pro-Russian rebels. Russia has also denied sending aid to these rebels in the form of supplies and weapons, though whether this is true or not is under debate at NATO. Still, skirmishes have increased in frequency, including a recent battle leading to the deaths of five Ukrainian soldiers, and the injury of twelve others after pro-Russian militants fired on Ukrainian forces approximately 40 times on Tuesday, 5/5. Since then, Vladimir Putin has been urged by many to put greater effort into curbing the threat of these rebels. Putin has said that he believes the conflict is drawing to a close, but is doing so slowly and unsteadily.
“At some point it will be obvious and we’ll say ‘the ceasefire is done’,” United States ambassador Steven Pfeifer claims, clearly believing that the orders had no effect on the fighting.
Similar skirmishes have erupted across the country. Separatist forces surrounding the area claim that because the area is under their control, the ceasefire does not apply to them. Monitors of this crisis say that both sides were violating their rules of ceasefire, simply by using heavy weapons at the front lines, until their withdrawal in March. The ceasefire, ordered on the fifteenth of February, ordered Separatist forces out of Ukraine and the resumption of normal life for the citizens. Many claim that the order was ineffective, due to the rising conflict throughout the country’s eastern border. Others attribute it to the lack of cooperation and positive relations between Ukraine and Russia. Some reports blame Russia’s tainted history with ceasefires, and state that the very idea of an ordered end to hostility was dead on arrival. NATO has made the claim that so far Russia has not put in enough effort towards fully stopping conflict, and requests that this be altered.
German chancellor Angela Merkel urged greater enforcement of the ceasefire during a meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, claiming that it was “a mere glimmer of hope, but still not enough to end the conflict. There are still major hurdles ahead.”
The conflict began when pro-Russian rebels conquered several areas in the small country of Ukraine’s eastern edge. They now claim to hold a large force in Debaltseve, an important strategic town. Debaltseve provides fast transportation to other important cities, such as Luhansk and Donetsk. Controlling these areas around the eastern edge of the country allow for large numbers of tanks and fighter planes to be flown in by the rebels. After the arrival of the invaders, the Ukrainian government ordered the evacuation of all civilians, so as to not endanger innocent people in the conflict. A majority of the 25,000 citizens of the town have been evacuated, however, an approximation of 7,000 still remain. The people left are struggling to survive underground while conflict roars overhead. When the ceasefire was given, intense negotiations allowed more freedoms to the areas held by pro-Russian rebels, such as self-rule. The representatives present for the negotiations agreed unanimously that the results benefitted Putin above all others. Only time will tell the fate of the innocent people of Debaltseve and the future of Ukraine.