Ukraine Live Day 433: The Minsk Agreement Isn’t Fraying – It’s Smoldering

April 26, 2015
Russian armor reportedly moving int northern Crimea | Hromadske Radio, via

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The Minsk Agreement Isn’t Fraying – It’s Smoldering

Reuters leads with this headline: “Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists trade accusations as Minsk deal frays.”

One Ukrainian serviceman was killed and two were wounded when separatists shelled Ukraine’s National Guard on Saturday at Shyrokyne, a village east of the port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov in Ukraine’s southeast, Kiev’s military said.

“Today at 0625 hours, the adversary used 122 mm artillery. They are banned under the Minsk agreements,” spokesman Dmytro Gorbunov told the television channel 112.

The commander of the battalion that came under fire was separately quoted as saying the serviceman had been killed when a medical vehicle taking him to hospital was fired on.

Rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine also stepped up accusations. “Today a rather explosive situation has formed, which demands the urgent intervention of the international community,” rebel spokesman Eduard Basurin said, according to the Donetsk News Agency.

Basurin said Ukrainian forces had fired on an aid convoy from Russia, killing one person. He later accused them of increasingly frequent attacks and indiscriminate fire on populated areas, Interfax reported.

The truth is, however, that the deal is not fraying — soon to be broken — but smoldering, soon to burst into flames. Yesterday, Grad rockets were launched from separatist territory and, as we reported, a major analytical think tank with a reputation of predicting crisis published a paper saying that a major Russian offensive is “imminent.”

Today the Ukrainian government is warning about the rising violence. RFE/RL reports:

Military spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said in Kyiv that the rebels who hold parts of two eastern provinces had stepped up attacks on government forces in violation of an agreement on a cease-fire and steps toward peace.

He said separatist forces were using large-caliber artillery, despite a commitment by both sides to pull such weaponry back from the front lines under the cease-fire deal signed in Minsk on February 12.

A statement from the military said that rebels near the town of Pisky in Donetsk province had fired at government positions eight times, including four barrages using 120-millmeter shells.

It said that separatist forces had also large-caliber shells in at least two other areas.

This week The Interpreter also documented buildup of heavy Russian armor on both sides of the border. 

Events in Ukraine appear as though they are headed toward significant escalation in violence in the coming days and weeks.

James Miller