Almost five months after a ceasefire was announced between Ukraine and Russia, tensions have escalated – yet again – between the two countries after Russian separatists reportedly went all out against the Ukrainian government on Sunday.
The renewed offensive was launched in the key port city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian rebels allegedly carried out attacks using artillery, mortars, grenade launchers and tanks on civilians, killing around 30 people.
A dashcam video uploaded to YouTube over the weekend purportedly shows the deadly assault:
Moscow, however, accused Kiev of instigating the violence, yet again denying sending arms and troops to the separatist movement. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the rebels launched an assault in response to attacks by the Ukrainian government forces.
"We see attempts to derail the peace process and attempts again and again by the Kiev leadership to solve the problem by using force to suppress the southeast. These attempts lead nowhere," Lavrov told a news conference.
"We expect our Western partners ... not to do anything that gives the Kiev authorities the impression that all their actions automatically will win support in the West."
Ever since the removal of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ally, Viktor Yanukovych, from the Ukrainian parliament in February – following riots by pro-European Union protesters – the president has been accused of destabilizing the present Ukrainian government, which is seen as strongly anti-Russian.
The situation took a turn for the worse when the Crimean peninsula – a pro-Moscow Ukrainian region – was occupied by Russia in March.
Later, when reports of Russian troops illegally entering Ukraine started to emerge, the government in Kiev vowed to fight back, ignoring the fact that it may not be able to counter Putin’s forces.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko even announced in November that his country is ready for “total war” with Russia.
However, that might not be necessary considering Western countries are calling for tougher sanctions, following the latest assault in Mariupol, to be imposed on Russia – a country already going through its worst economic crisis in five years.