After months of relative calm, fighting between government forces and Russia-backed rebels has returned eastern Ukraine to what Reuters describes as a state of “all-out war.” Europe and the United States are reportedly considering responding with further sanctions against Russia, whose economy is already in a disastrous state in part because of Ukraine-related Western actions. From Reuters:
Violence in eastern Ukraine is at by far its worst since a ceasefire was agreed last September. Casualties have mounted, including in the major port of Mariupol where Kiev says 30 civilians were killed in rebel shelling on Saturday...The Kiev government sees the rebel advance as a repudiation of the ceasefire, restarting a war in which 5,000 people have been killed. Kiev and NATO believe thousands of Russian troops are in eastern Ukraine fighting on the rebels' behalf with advanced weapons, despite Moscow's denials.
A Ukrainian official estimates that 9,000 Russian troops are currently in his country, while a NATO commander from the U.S. says that the alliance has detected the use of air defense and electronic warfare systems consistent with “past Russian troop movements into Ukraine.”
The European Union will hold an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss sanctions. President Obama told reporters he is “deeply concerned” about the latest developments and that the U.S. will respond jointly with its European allies.