The body count in east Ukraine tops 6,000 as Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists continue to violate the “ceasefire agreement.”
The West continues to warn Russia to decrease its activity in the region, but has not reacted to the crisis otherwise.
The United Nations stated that the thousands of deaths occurred “in spite of successive ceasefires,” without noting that the ceasefire currently in place has been almost entirely ignored. The Minsk agreement went into effect on February 15, but the Russians and pro-Russian Ukrainian fighters immediately broke it. Ukrainian officials reported the deaths of three servicemen in the last 24 hours. The Russians and rebels shelled the Ukrainian army over 22 times during that time. But civilians are often caught in the middle — and too scared to leave.
“Many have been trapped in conflict zones, forced to shelter in basements, with hardly any drinking water, food, heating, electricity or basic medical supplies,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Many people stay because they fear for their lives if they try to move. Many others stay to protect children, other family members, or their property. And some are forced to stay against their will, or are simply physically unable to leave.”
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Monday “for frank discussions on Ukraine, Syria and Iran.” Kerry only warned Lavrov of more sanctions against Russia.
Kerry recently admitted Lavrov lied to his face about Russia’s involvement, saying that Russian propaganda worked on him, but there is no word if he confronted Lavrov over his lies.
“There’s been a kind of cherry-picking, a piecemeal selectivity, to the application,” he said. “As we all know shooting, shelling has still been going on. There is not yet a full cease-fire.”
Lavrov attempted to convince Kerry “to use the influence of Washington” on Ukrainian officials to make sure Kiev implements their portion of the deal. He did no mention the Russians’ violations, but insisted the rebels are withdrawing heavy weapons.
On February 24, almost ten days after the ceasefire went into effect, the rebels announced a withdrawal of military equipment in four cities. The rebels even put on a huge show for journalists on the ground, but Kiev did not believe them. Officials believe Russia and the rebels will target Mariupol, an important port city on the Black Sea.