What's happening in Ukraine?

It has been more than three years since Ukrainians gathered at Maidan Square in Kyiv on the night of Nov. 21, 2013, to demand closer integration with Europe and the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych. As the protests spread and Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement with the EU, a full-scale uprising forced him to flee and led to conflicts across the country that have since claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people. It also led to a de facto division of the country between a pro-European west and a pro-Russian east, as well as loss of Crimean Peninsula to Russia.

Though a cease-fire signed between the government and Russian-backed separatists on Feb. 11, 2015, has largely kept matters silent amid occasional flare ups, the recent outbreak of conflict in the town of Avdiivka, north of Donetsk, showed again that nothing is settled yet. The timing of the clashes, coinciding with U.S. President Donald Trump's first phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 28, sparked further speculation as to what they talked about Ukraine and Crimea.

While the Ukrainian government blamed Russia for the offensive in Avdiivka, which is the bloodiest escalation since the cease-fire came into force and resulted in the deaths of at least 35 dead, Russia predictably accused the government of seeking to advance into the region under rebel control. The reality, as usual, is somewhere in between: The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine announced that both Ukraine and Russia had stepped up their military build-up in the region on the eve of the clashes.

Devoid of strong and present support from the West, particularly the United States, Ukraine does not have the...

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