- - Friday, June 17, 2016

The Minsk Peace Accords have not been fully implemented by either side and violence is still smoldering along the demarcation line between the Ukrainian military and Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass region of East Ukraine. Violations of the ceasefire are common on both sides, but since last summer heavy weapons have been withdrawn from front line sectors. This may be changing which would ramp up the possibility of a full-blown military conflict once again erupting in Donetsk.

On June 14, a local media outlet quoted reports from Ukrainian military officials that Russia-backed separatists in Donbass had amassed 30 tanks near the strategic town of Avdiivka, reports the private intelligence firm Stratfor. This large number of armored vehicles would definitely violate the Minsk accords and signal a new willingness from Moscow to re-escalate the conflict.

“Local media and observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe sometimes publish accounts of military vehicles in the area, but never as many as 30, which constitutes nearly an entire armored battalion. The massing of tanks at the scale described in Donbass is unusual and, if true, indicates that military action could be expected in that sector of the demarcation line.”

Stratfor points out that the Ukrainian military has a history of disseminating false information about the situation at the front and this information has not been independently verified. However, Ukraine has never been untruthful about this large of a deployment.

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