While Russia has always been supportive of the rebels in Eastern Ukraine as a practical matter, this latest flare-up of violence appears to have them increasingly willing to publicly fault the Ukrainian government, accusing them of violating the Minsk peace deal (which Russia helped negotiate) with the use of certain heavy weapons, and violating the Geneva Conventions by shelling areas where civilians are present.
The Ukrainian government and eastern rebels have been fighting an on-again, off-again war despite a ceasefire that went into effect nearly two years ago. The two sides pretty much always accuse the other of starting such flare-ups, and this time was no different, with both sides insisting the other fired first in the clashes around Donetsk.
Shelling from both sides has reportedly killed civilians in recent days, though exact figures are impossible to confirm. Russia faulted the Ukrainian government for “barbarism” in attacking civilian areas with their shelling.
The Kremlin was also unusually frank in their support for the rebels, saying they hope the rebels have enough ammunition to respond to aggressive action by the Ukrainian military in the east. Ukraine’s government has accused Russia of providing materially all of the rebels’ equipment, though signs point to the rebels looting considerable gear from old Ukrainian military caches.