Tensions between Kiev and separatists have been rising in the days leading up to Sunday’s May 25h presidential election, but now the scale of battles has led Russia President Vladimir Putin to declare that Ukraine is in a “full-scale civil war.”
Today fighting broke out near Donetsk leaving two dead which came on the heels of another battle yesterday that left 13 Kiev fighters dead. All of which raises questions as to how orderly an election can occur two days from now.
Separatists have proclaimed their intention to not allow the presidential vote in towns that have declared independence from the gang in Kiev who came to power overthrowing the democratically elected president with assistance from the US and EU. Part of the opposition to elections is due to the “interim government” in Kiev being seen as illegitimate.
The clash, after the deaths of at least 13 Ukrainian servicemen on Thursday in another firefight in the locality of Volnovakha, suggested there would be no let-up in violence in the east during Sunday’s election.
Kiev’s pro-Western government hopes the election will stabilize Ukraine after mass street protests toppled Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich in February, but the separatists have vowed to prevent the vote going ahead in eastern towns where they have seized control.
Whether this is a “full scale” civil war or not, the hope that this election is going to “stabilize” the political situation in Ukraine appears misplaced. The more blood that is spilled the harder it will be to stitch Ukraine back together, if that is even possible at this point.
The one solution left besides total separation could be an agreement to decentralize power out of Kiev to a federated system with greater local control. But the longer the conflict rages the more strident both sides become.
Sunday is going to be an interesting day in Ukraine.