Conflict in Eastern Ukraine Flares

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Fighting escalated between Ukraine’s forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, heightening fears of a Russian invasion.

  • For eight years, Russian-backed separatists and Ukraine government forces have waged a slow-burning war in the eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas that has claimed some 14,000 lives.
  • On Thursday, the fighting picked up significantly. The US and its allies believe the Kremlin may be fomenting an uptick in violence in eastern Ukraine in order to fabricate a pretext to invade.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin falsely claims Ukrainian forces are perpetrating a “genocide” against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, and may justify as invasion as an act of protection.
  • Russian-backed separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine claim Ukraine government forces carried out “massive strikes on civilians.” They blame Ukraine’s government for increased fighting in the region.
  • Russia has amassed some 150,000 troops around Ukraine, encircling the country on three sides. Moscow says it has begun withdrawing some of those troops in recent days.
  • But the US and NATO say there’s no sign of a drawback, and US President Joe Biden said he expects a Russian invasion of Ukraine to occur within days.
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