UkraineAlert

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Stabilizing a Recaptured Conflict Zone Will Test Kyiv's Skills at Reconciliation

While Ukraine’s weekend victory in seizing back two cities in Donetsk province is its biggest in the three-month war with Russian proxy forces, it immediately poses some tough new tests for the government in Kyiv.

And, at a critical moment in Ukraine’s fight against separatist militias backed by the Russian government, it is unclear what real support is being offered to Ukraine by governments in the transatlantic community.

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The West Retreated From Its Vow of Sanctions, Leaving Kyiv No Option

 

The Ukrainian military's counter-offensive in southeast Ukraine suddenly has become Kyiv's most effective response so far to the three-month-old proxy insurgency waged by Russian President Vladimir Putin. But the fight will be longer and riskier if the West continues its hesitation to apply its promised economic sanctions against Putin's continued war-making.

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President Petro Poroshenko’s cancellation of Ukraine’s cease-fire yesterday seals a strategic defeat for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Seven months after Putin strong-armed a malleable Ukrainian leader into scrapping Ukraine’s plan for closer ties to Europe, Ukraine is prepared to fight Russia to preserve exactly that choice.

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Nearly two-thirds of Russians in a survey this month support the arming of the Russian-backed separatist fighters in southeastern Ukraine, according to the Moscow-based Levada Center for public opinion research. In other words, the Russian people are giving President Vladimir Putin the green light to do what he is doing, even as he says he is not.

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Russian-backed militants in Ukraine have detained (and ultimately released) three varied teams monitoring the crisis there under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Security threats to the monitors, including those detentions, are hampering the work of the OSCE in its role as the main international body observing and mediating in the Russia-Ukraine crisis, says US Ambassador Daniel Baer.

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As Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced an end to the cease-fire by government forces fighting Russian-backed militants in the Donbas region of the southeast, new accounts emerged to show how futile was the ten-day truce. Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry reported that the country’s armed forces lost 27 soldiers killed and 69 wounded.

And from Donetsk, the effective capital of Donbas, Yevhen Shybalov writes of the truce that only pessimists got this one right. Shybalov is a correspondent for Ukraine’s most prominent weekly paper, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia (the paper is published in Ukrainian and Russian as Dzerkalo Nedeli – the names translate as the “Weekly Mirror”), and his dispatches have often given a feel for the grimness of life in Donetsk at war.

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Kateryna Serhatskova, a 26-year-old Russian reporter for the Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, is becoming one of the main documenters of the "dirty war" for control of the Donbas region of southeastern Ukraine. Serhatskova, who lived for several years in Crimea, travels regularly to some of the most violent and fearful towns in the Donbas conflict – Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Mariupol and others.

Serhatskova and a few other volunteers are keeping a list – about eighty names long, now – of local residents whose detention by the Russian-backed rebels in Donbas they have confirmed. But some families are afraid to permit documentation of their missing relatives, and the investigators believe that the rebels hold probably several hundred captives, most of them local people, Serhatskova said.

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Former US Ambassador Bryza Urges Stepped-Up Effort to End Political Pricing by Kremlin and Gazprom 

Russia has unsheathed its gas weapon again, demanding higher prices this spring from Ukraine and announcing last week a cutoff in sales to its neighbor unless paid for in advance. (As Moscow twists Ukraine’s arm over gas, it has retreated on its gas price to Lithuania, which may offer a valuable lesson, Agnia Grigas writes.) The West can better defend Ukraine and Europe against Russia’s weaponization of gas sales by demanding that Russia’s state-owned Gazprom sell gas to European Union states at a uniform basic price, says Atlantic Council Nonresident Senior Fellow Matthew Bryza.

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Ukraine Military’s Most Famous Female Pilot is Now a Captive of Separatist Rebels


She looks tired, her face slightly puffy, but her blue eyes are calm and clear, and she appears utterly unafraid. Dressed in military fatigues, her hair cut short, she sits in the corner of a white-tiled room, handcuffed to a set of yellow metal bars.

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