Despite constant griping from the Kiev-based government, the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine had been holding remarkably well, lasting for months with only a few minor skirmishes. That may be coming to an end, with heavy fighting erupting in the east today.
The fighting centers around the towns of Maryinka and Krashohorivka, along the frontier between government forces and the Donetsk-based separatists. The two sides each blamed the other for firing first, with Ukraine claiming the rebels were carrying out a “full-scale offensive” against them.
That seems unlikely at this point, for while this was the worst fighting in months, the overall death toll was only around 19, and all indications are that the fighting was localized around the two small towns. This suggests one local commander on one side or the other jumped the gun and started the battle.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that this won’t imperil the ceasefire outright. Ukraine has repeatedly talked up their plans for a full-scale war to wipe out the rebels, but has balked given the reality that the last time they ditched a ceasefire, they lost ground to the rebels and had to sign this most recent ceasefire on even worse terms. The rebels mostly seem content with de facto independence, though some have pushed to extend their territory across the rest of Donetsk Province, and they too may press for a return to the fighting, hoping for a resolution to the civil war.