Ukraine Ceasefire Collapses With Artillery Assault On School
The most harrowing morning I've had in Donetsk so far: http://t.co/rGtybhPQq2 AP photos by Mstyslav Chernov
— Nataliya Vasilyeva (@NatVasilyevaAP) November 6, 2014
Fighting resumed today in East Ukraine. Artillery fire in the Donetsk region has already killed two teenagers who died when a shell hit their school. The teens were playing soccer on their lunch break when a shell hit their high school killing them and injuring an estimated four others who are said to be in intensive care. The combat comes in the aftermath of the election of separatist leaders in Donetsk and Luhansk who are seeking to secede from Ukraine.
Authorities in Kiev claim the rounds came from separatist fighters while separatist authorities in Donetsk have blamed Kiev and said the government has started a new military offensive. For its part, the government in Kiev has denied there is a new offensive. Regardless as to who started it one thing is obvious – the ceasefire is over.
All that is certain so far is that the school where the shells landed is at least 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the nearest government position but close to rebel posts. That would appear to lend weight to claims of Ukrainian culpability — government troops shelling the rebels — but Lysenko said the shelling was planned in advance by the rebels to discredit government forces.
Government officials have failed to produce cast-iron evidence of such claims in the past, and independent rights groups say there’s evidence that government artillery has hit homes in eastern Ukraine. Residents of stricken areas have frequently complained that rebels deploy artillery near homes, invariably drawing return fire.
Military forces loyal to Kiev have already been caught firing cluster bombs in residential areas. And human rights organizations have condemned both sides for not observing more restraint when operating around densely populated areas. The fighting between Kiev and separatist forces is taking place in close proximity to civilians with missiles and artillery – even unintentional fire can inflict significant damage.
The ceasefire has been shaky from the start and after the elections in the Donbass region the government in Kiev started withholding state funds from the area and appears to have restarted its military program to reintegrate Donestk and Luhansk by force. This is problematic not just because it destroys any chance for peace between Kiev and the separatists, but because it will likely lead to further tensions between Russia and NATO.