It’s February, and exactly as was the case three years ago, events in Ukraine are making headlines. Guns are again being fired; deaths and injuries are being reported. Low temperatures of below 20o Celsius are affecting the region these days, but they have not lowered tensions in a conflict, which far from nearing a resolution, is worsening.
Three years back, the French news agency Voltaire wrote in one of its reports, "Human rights violations have increased greatly since the pro-Western coup staged in February of 2014, with the blessing of NATO:"
Since then, the situation in Ukraine has only gotten worse. President Petro Poroshenko wants to revive the fighting, and has sent troops and armaments to the Donbass region where confrontations have escalated at an alarming rate.
As if he were playing a game of chess, the President in Kiev thought that, with the election of a new leader in the United States, it would be a good time to take advantage of the low temperatures and renew attacks, while cutting electricity, water, and gas, which are vital to human survival.
With this purpose, as the military initiative was launched, Poroshenko called Donald Trump, perhaps believing that the U.S. President would support the offensive, which is only meant to provoke condemnations of Russia and isolate this country.
According to a White House statement issued February 4, however, Trump stated during the telephone conversation, "We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border."
Ukrainian Presidential spokesperson Sviatoslav Tsegolko reported that Trump and Poroshenko also addressed other issues, including the strengthening of ties between the two countries.
In any event, this reporter is confident that Trump's response was unexpected by the millionaire chocolate king installed as President via a coup d'etat in 2014. Poroshenko has once again shown his willingness to make his country NATO's front line of attack against Russia, with constant forays against residents in regions bordering that country in the eastern area of Donbass.
The majority Russian-speaking population which declared the Donetsk People's Republic is the most affected by this aggression and state of war.
These regions in the Ukrainian east have been the scene of an armed conflict that has left 10,000 dead, among them 2,000 civilians, according to United Nations figures.
In the context of the current escalation, the weekly television program Sputnik, cited by Reuters, reported from Washington that the head of the U.S. Senate Armed Forces Committee, John McCain, said the country should send weapons to Ukraine to support government forces there.
Asked what military equipment he proposed supplying to Kiev, McCain mentioned Javelin anti-tank missiles, counter-battery radar and armor, while stating that he had written President Trump a letter urging him to send "lethal weapons" given "Russian aggression," in Ukraine.
The latest reports from areas under attack indicate that renewed fighting was taking place in the city of Avdiivka, on the outskirts of the Donetsk People's Republic, causing the deaths of seven Ukrainian soldiers and injuring 20. An unspecified number of civilian deaths were reported, as well as the fact that 200 coal miners were trapped underground.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels that the ceasefire in Ukraine was violated more that 5,600 times in the first week of February, while the EFE agency issued a report, datelined in Geneva, stating that the spike in fighting between the Ukrainian Army and militias in the country's east had left 17,000 persons, including 2,500 children, without water, heat or electricity in the locality of Avdéyevka, according to UNICEF.
The UN organization also reported that the water supply to other cities and towns in the area was disrupted when electricity was cut to a treatment plant which provides portable water to approximately 400,000 persons in Donetsk.
Without water or electricity, homes are extremely cold and health conditions are deteriorating, according to the UNICEF representative in Ukraine, Giovanna Barberis.
UNICEF likewise denounced the fact that six schools and four childcare centers in the area had been closed as a consequence of the fighting.
Meanwhile, a Kremlin presidential advisor emphasized in Moscow that Ukraine has no interest in abiding by the agreement signed to end the conflict two years ago in Minsk, but rather uses it solely to put pressure on Russia.
This month, Ukraine holds the Presidency of the UN Security Council, leading Poroshenko to announce on his Twitter account, "We will continue to take advantage of every opportunity in the UN to defend Ukraine from armed Russian aggression," putting into question the responsibility with which the country is assuming such a position in an international organization.
One more time, one more February, and freezing temperatures are not cooling tensions in an area where only negotiations can lead to peace.