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The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany held a conference call last month to discuss the peace process in Eastern Ukraine. During their two-hour conversation, Presidents Putin, Poroshenko, Hollande and Chancellor Merkel agreed that all the terms of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement must be implemented by the end of 2015.
Notwithstanding the optimistic tone of the leaders’ declaration, a starkly different reality has emerged in Eastern Ukraine.
On the day the four spoke, a barrage of missiles was launched into a residential area of Donetsk, a city controlled by Russian proxies. Ukrainian officials quickly reported that the attack was a maskirovka (a military subterfuge) launched by the separatists. A day later, in “retaliation,” Russia-backed fighters attacked four municipalities in Ukraine-controlled territory, killing four civilians and threatened to destroy the Adviivka coal coking plant, Europe’s largest and crucial to Ukraine’s steel industry.
In the weeks that followed, Ukrainian authorities reported a steep jump in ceasefire violations. Indeed, in the first five days of August, the number of Ukrainian military killed and wounded stood at over 50, the largest number of casualties since the Accords were signed less than half a year ago.................
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