KYIV – Territorial defense units have been called up in Ukraine’s southern regions as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged NATO to accelerate his country’s bid to join the defensive military alliance amid a massive mobilization of Russian troops near the state border.
KYIV – With 13,276 new cases reported on April 5, Ukraine topped the list of European countries with the highest COVID-19 infection rate, according to the statistics portal Worldometer. The following day, Ukraine also saw record numbers of hospitalizations and fatalities since the pandemic began more than a year ago, with 5,587 people hospitalized and 481 dead on April 6.
The current escalation of tensions around eastern Ukraine is dangerous and may appear untimely and inopportune while Europe and Russia seek to focus on managing the latest COVID-19 pandemic wave as well as addressing its accumulating economic and social consequences. Nevertheless, a deliberate political choice is dictating the uptick in violence in the Donbas war zone, raising the risk of renewed major military conflict.
Train convoys of heavy Russian military equipment, seen on multiple videos on social media, reportedly shipping from Siberia to the border regions of Ukraine. The Kerch Strait Bridge to the occupied Crimean Peninsula shut down briefly, apparently for a major shipment of weaponry.
The non-governmental organization (NGO) Ukraine-2050 welcomes the following “Joint Statement by Members of the European Parliament on increased tensions over Russia’s military build-up in eastern Ukraine” issued on April 2:
The Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) is deeply concerned with Russia’s recent build-up of military forces at Ukraine’s border and violation of its ceasefire agreement. Equally troubling are the series of provocative statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin, other officials and Russian media personalities regarding Ukraine. All these developments have raised the prospect that Moscow might launch a new offensive in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron conferred, on March 30, by video-conference on multiple international issues, including the intensification of the “internal conflict in Ukraine” (according to Mr. Putin) or “conflict in Ukraine” (Ms. Merkel and Mr. Macron, though still not naming Russia).
Amid an ongoing pandemic currently spiking throughout the country and amid a growing threat of renewed Russian aggression and more Russian troops mobilizing along its northern, eastern and southern borders, Ukraine has simultaneously been tasked by Western allies with rooting out corruption and graft endemic throughout much of the country.