- - Monday, March 7, 2016

Fighting in the Donbass region of East Ukraine, controlled by pro-Russian separatists, has flared in recent weeks, causing concern among NATO members. The Minsk accords, which achieved an unstable cease fire in 2015, could be once again on the verge of collapse. NATO reports over 400 attacks against Ukrainian military targets in the last week. Approximately 430 Ukrainian soldiers have died since the peace accords were put in place in Belarus between Russia, Ukraine and other world powers.

The reason for this uptick in violence is, as usual, shrouded in mystery. The United States and the European Union have recently extended sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the war and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Perhaps the Kremlin wants to show its displeasure and highlight the consequences it will impose for this economic pressure from the West.

Many analysts have stated that the Kremlin is overextended with forces in Ukraine as well as a massive expeditionary force in the Middle East, pressuring Turkey, a NATO member state. Perhaps Moscow wants to show this is not the case. Perhaps Putin just wants to increase the pressure on Kiev in the face of instability in the Ukrainian government, with demands for the prime minister to resign and allegations of continuing corruption. The most likely explanation, in addition to those above, is that the Russian government wants to continue the slow, steady, push against NATO expansion in former Soviet territory. NATO announcing that Montenegro will be admitted to the alliance has especially angered the Kremlin leadership.

The war in East Ukraine does not seem like it is over after all. There have been reports of separatists moving heavy weapons back to the front. These are ominous developments indeed.

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