The conflict in the Donbas has recently moved into an active phase - a "hot war" - and responsibility, as well as the keys to the end of the conflict, lies with Russia.
US State Department Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker noted this from London during a telephone press briefing to international journalists, writes Krym.Realii.
"This is still a very hot war. This past week we had virtually a record number of ceasefire violations. OSCE calculated over 7,000 for the week. That is quite significant," Volker said.
He complained that the conflict in the Donbas "often falls off the front pages” of global newspapers but must be resolved urgently.
“There’s no ambiguity here. That the forces fighting in eastern Ukraine [against the Ukrainian regime] are under direct Russian command and control, and the two political entities [DPR and LPR] likewise are wholly sustained by the Russian Federation. Everything from how they got there to their ongoing finances. So Russia has a direct responsibility for this conflict,” Volker said during the briefing, which lasted half an hour.
He noted the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Donbas: the destruction of infrastructure - including electricity, water, heat, communications and roads – as well as problems in the movement of people. Volker also noted an alarming outbreak of a particularly dangerous strain of tuberculosis, while difficult conditions impede the delivery of antibiotics.
Moreover, according to the Special Representative, industry is destroyed. Some mines are flooded with water, while other mines are used for the disposal of radioactive waste.
“This [radioactive waste] can get into the groundwater or can cause other environmental damage. There are, of course the physical risks to the population, and every so often we hear stories of people being killed by a landmine or unexploded ordnance. Then, of course, you have the active conflict itself. Snipers shooting at people, and mortars going off in villages… So it is a very active conflict, a hot war again,” he added.
The Special Representative drew attention to the fact that the population residing in the territory of the conflict is predominantly Russian-speaking, and that Russia, which allegedly cares about Russian-speaking people, must understand what these people are subjected to by Russia’s actions - or inaction - in terms of settling the conflict.
Representative Volker also touched upon the supplying of American lethal weapons to Ukraine, particularly Javelin anti-tank missile complexes. Ukrainian soldiers completed the first tests of the Javelin systems this week.
He cited Britain, Canada, Poland, and Lithuania – all EU members – as examples of states which found the opportunity to support Ukraine’s defense capabilities.
Volker earlier visited the Donbas, and has said that he is ready to visit Donetsk and Luhansk after their release from separatist rule.