Ukraine, Us, Volodymyr Zelensky, Vladimir Putin, Joe Biden

Ukraine, Us

What's behind the conflict in eastern Ukraine?

What's behind the conflict in eastern Ukraine?

15/4/2021 12:02:00 PM

What's behind the conflict in eastern Ukraine ?

What's behind the conflict in eastern Ukraine ?

Ukrainian officials have repeatedly pushed for revising the Minsk deal, calls that Russia has rejected.In this Jul 14, 2020, file photo, a Ukrainian soldier pays her final respects at the coffin of serviceman Taras Matviiv during his funeral in Independence Square in Kyiv. Matviiv was honoured with the Hero of Ukraine award, the highest state award, after being killed while fighting against pro-Russian rebels. (File photo: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

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HOW IS THE PEACE DEAL FARING?While the separatists have asked Russia to incorporate the rebel territories, Moscow has ignored the demand - apparently figuring that those eastern regions would eventually help draw Ukraine back into Russia's orbit and thwart Kyiv's aspirations to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU. Russia has granted its citizenship to more than 600,000 people in the rebel-controlled regions.

Political novice Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine by a landslide in April 2019 on promises to end the fighting and root out the country's endemic corruption. He pushed successfully for a series of prisoner exchanges and sought to secure a lasting truce by pulling back troops and heavy weapons from the line of contact.

In December 2019, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany met in Paris and reaffirmed their commitment to the 2015 peace deal, but no progress has been reached on a political settlement.In this Apr 9, 2021, file photo, a woman visits her home in separatist-controlled territory to collect her belongings after a recent shelling near a frontline outside Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. (File photo: AP)

WHY HAVE TENSIONS ESCALATED NOW?The lack of a lasting resolution to the conflict has fomented new tensions. Ukrainian authorities say ceasefire violations have become more frequent in recent weeks, with nearly 30 troops killed this year.They accused Russia of fuelling tensions by deploying 41,000 troops near the border with eastern Ukraine and 42,000 to Crimea, where Russia maintains a large naval base.

READ: Ukraine's Zelensky on frontline as Merkel urges Putin to pull back troopsThe US and NATO say the Russian troops' concentration is the largest since 2014. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the buildup in the past three weeks was part of readiness drills in response to what he described as threats from NATO.

Russia also has cast it as a necessary security precaution amid what it described as Ukraine's provocations along the line of control. Kremlin officials have strongly warned Kyiv against trying to use force to retake the east, saying Russia could be forced to intervene to protect civilians if they face a threat of massacre.

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New US President Joe Biden has said in a speech that the days of the US “rolling over” to Russian President Vladimir Putin were over. In a phone call on Tuesday with Putin, Biden urged him to “de-escalate tensions”. The White House said Biden"emphasised the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Read more: CNA »

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