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.
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: