Arming Ukraine: Where the 2016 Hopefuls Stand

Russia-backed rebels sit on an armored transporter driving to the airport outside Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 25 / AP

Fighting continues in eastern Ukraine despite a ceasefire agreement reached earlier this month by European negotiators.

While Russian-backed separatists began to pull back some heavy weapons from the front lines on Tuesday as part of the deal, Ukraine says the rebels are still initiating attacks. Ukrainian forces retreated from the strategic rail hub Debaltseve last week under an onslaught from the separatists—who were bolstered by Russian troops and advanced weaponry, Western officials said—and residents now fear that the rebels could launch further attacks on the eastern cities of Mariupol and Kharkiv.

Russian Media Reports Suggest Variety of Responses to Murder of Boris Nemtsov

Protestors march near the site of Boris Nemtsov's murder. / AP

Kremlin-aligned media outlets were quick to deflect blame for the murder of Boris Nemtsov, a leading figure in the Russian opposition, from Vladimir Putin and his allies, claiming that killing Nemtsov does not benefit Putin and presenting other possible alternative explanations for the murder.

This One Paragraph Explains the (Partially Self-Inflicted) Tragedy of Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier retreats. (AP)

The situation in Ukraine right now is pretty grim. The European-brokered “ceasefire” is joke, even if the Obama administration continues to hold out hope. Russian separatists launched an offensive against the town of Debaltseve, forcing Ukrainian troops to retreat. The State Department, for its part, boldly affirmed the Ukrainian government’s “sovereign right” to surrender their territory to foreign aggressors. How comforting.

Obviously, Putin deserves most of the blame for the carnage in eastern Ukraine. If he wanted to the fighting to stop, it would. But the Ukrainian people are also suffering from the corruption and incompetence of their own government and military. This one passage from a riveting Washington Post report on the Ukrainian battalion charged with defending Debaltseve captures the depravity of the situation:

Fighting Rages in East Ukraine Despite Bid to Revive Truce

Ukrainian servicemen ride on a military vehicle near Artemivsk February 19, 2015

ARTEMIVSK/VUHLEHIRSK, Ukraine (Reuters) – Fighting raged in eastern Ukraine on Thursday despite European efforts to resurrect a stillborn ceasefire, a day after pro-Russian separatists spurned the truce by forcing thousands of government troops out of a strategic town.