After the results of Sunday’s election handed victory to Ukrainian oligarch Petro Poroshenko a brutal assault began on East Ukraine by Kiev. Videos and photos from the attack show numerous dead civilians in East Ukraine apparently killed as a result. The central area of the attack seemed to be the airport in Donetsk which faced bombardment from artillery on the ground and jets in the air.

One separatist leader claimed 50 fighters died at the Donestk airport and that after the attack by Kiev there was no going back, this is civil war.

The prime minister of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist group that controls this eastern region of Ukraine, said on Tuesday that about 50 pro-Russian militiamen had been killed the day before in heavy fighting with Ukrainian forces for control of a crucial airport…

Alexander Borodai, the premier of the Donetsk People’s Republic who has been a central player in the motley collection of separatist leaders, said that while the pro-Russian fighters’ casualties were high, so were those of the Ukrainian military.

If the battles on Monday were any indication there is a long struggle ahead for both sides, one that will lead to the deaths not just of fighters but scores of those caught in the crossfire.

The political dynamics of the situation in East Ukraine appear to be subtler than in Crimea where Russia directly intervened. Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed to support the results of the election in Kiev and has made no direct pledges to support break away territories in East Ukraine who have declared independence. Instead, the support seems to be indirect with Putin being content to keep Kiev off balance.

It is an interesting if not effective game, but the costs will be high if Kiev refuses to accept autonomy in East Ukraine as there seems to be no shortage of local fighters or Russian supplied arms. Meanwhile the central government is nearing bankruptcy and Russia is demanding back payments owed for natural gas.