A Mid-winter Assault with Wider Implications for Agitation in Ukraine
Charges that increasing numbers of Russian fighters are penetrating Ukraine's border come with renewed fighting under a cease-fire in the east. Casualty figures include five civilians killed and 30 wounded along with one Ukraine soldier killed and 40 troops wounded in the past 24-hours.
These mid-winter assaults in and around Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine's pro-Russian held east, provide proof to the charges by Ukraine's military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, that: "A significant number of Russian soldiers without identifiable insignia have been spotted in Luhansk region." Russia has denied the charges saying there was no proof. Yet, Ukraine has confirmed that "there is continued mass shelling of positions and a desire by rebels to expand the territory under their control."
Ukrainian and other sources have confirmed that pro-Russian rebels have expanded their territory some 192-square miles beyond a cease-fire agreed boundary inked last September at Minsk, Belarus. The tactics employed by the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine's east is indicative of Vladimir Putin's modus operandi to meddle in Ukraine: to make open agreements, breech those agreements, gain more territory, seek a cease-fire, break the cease-fire, gain more ground and then return to the negotiating table.
So later today, when Russia sits with Ukraine, France and Germany in Berlin to consider the peace of Ukraine, expect Russia to call for an immediate cease-fire now that pro-Russian separatists have gain additional ground into Ukraine's sovereign territory. Deal or no new deal at Berlin, agitations and assaults can be expected in Ukraine's east well into the dead of winter.