Ukraine: Fighting flares up in eastern town of Avdiivka

A pact reached almost two years ago in Minsk, Belarus, called for a cease-fire, for heavy weapons to be pulled back from the front lines and for a political resolution of the conflict, but the agreement has been observed only fitfully and skirmishes and artillery fire have persisted.
There’s no end in sight for the conflict in Ukraine’s easternmost regions, which has killed close to 10,000 people and poisoned ties between Russian Federation and the West.The violence in Avdiivka, which lies close to the rebel capital of Donetsk, has left around 20,000 people without heat or hot water in the midst of winter temperatures falling as low as minus 20 Celsius ( minus 4 Fahrenheit).President Petro Poroshenko was due to discuss the conflict in Berlin on Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.Russia-backed separatist rebels and the Ukrainian government in 2015 committed to cease fire and withdraw heavy weaponry including Grads.It also echoes the previous days’ statements by various global organizations and leaders, including the UN Security Council and the European Union, expressing concern over the deteriorating situation in eastern Ukraine.

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Pro-Russian separatists continue an onslaught on Avdiivka, in the eastern-Ukrainian region of Donbass, after launching the attack on Sunday.The Security Council includes both Russian Federation and the Ukraine, which is a rotating member of the council.The so-called Contact Group of Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which aims at implementing the two-year-old Minsk deal, was meeting Wednesday in Minsk.”We call for an immediate return to the ceasefire and the withdrawal of all heavy weapons banned under the Minsk agreements”, he said.Stoltenberg’s appeal to Moscow comes amidst European worries that a Putin-friendly Trump administration may weaken USA support for Ukrainian government forces. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Russian Federation for supporting the rebels, as well as annexing Crimea, which was part of Ukraine. “We have heard remarks of Mr. Trump on Crimea when he was a presidential candidate”.