By: Novpreet Bajwa
In the latest attacks, the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have launched a rocket at the Ukrainian city, Mariupol, prolonging the civil war that erupted in February 2014 following the country’s pro-democracy revolution.
The rocket fire has killed at least 30 civilians and wounded 83, hitting the city’s marketplace, shops, schools and homes. Many residents have lost heat and power, causing them to take cautious measures against future attacks. So far, the many attacks executed by both the Ukraine government and the rebels have caused the deaths of at least 5,000 since January 2014 and wounded more than 10,000. Many buses have been targeted by the rebels, causing deaths of civilians.
Although the rebels have been active in fighting, their leader, Alexander Zakharchenko, has denied their involvement in the Mariupol attack, stating that the military areas surrounding the city will be attacked but not the city itself.
The Ukrainian government, however, still suspect the attack to be the work of the rebels since the rocket launch came from areas that are controlled by the rebels. Thus, the government has responded by increasing military control over the city and providing its soldiers with more weapons. The government also sent more military forces to a port on the Sea of Azov near Mariupol, hoping to deter the rebels.
Both sides were urged to end this fighting in September 2014 when both signed a peace deal which has been violated by both on multiple occasions. While the government is still open to more peace talks with the rebels, the rebels refuse to cooperate with it, ending any potential peace deals in the future.
The conflict has been denounced by many in the West including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry with Kerry accusing Russia to be supporting the rebels with military weapons which has been repeatedly denied by Russian government.
This violent war between the rebels and Ukraine government has been ongoing since February 2014 after the rebels saw the pro-democratic revolution as a coup d’état in which a new western-friendly government was established. The rebels objected to the ousting of former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych who prompted the revolution after his refusal of signing the association agreement with the European Union that would have provided the government a basis of modernization of Ukraine’s economic and political policies, and improvement of human and workers’ rights. After the establishment of the new government, the rebels began to protest it, calling for forming closer ties with Russia instead of with the west. In the process, Crimea was annexed by Russia and was declared an independent which has not been recognized by the international community. The conflict has escalated into many states declaring independence from Ukraine to form ties with Russia including Donetsk and Lugansk. Mariupol is part of Ukrainian state, Donetsk Oblast.