An offensive by Ukraine’s military in recent weeks has succeeded in recapturing territory once held by pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. According to the United Nations, the country’s civil war has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 people and wounded 5,000 in eastern Ukraine since the conflict began in April. Civilian casualties have increased in recent weeks as Kiev’s army has advanced into the region’s major cites. Two hundred-ninety-eight people died in mid-July when a Malaysian airliner was shot down over the region, allegedly brought down by pro-Russian rebels who may have accidentally targeted the passenger jet with a Russian-made ground-to-air missile.
Tensions have recently increased with charges by Ukraine’s government, the U.S. and NATO that Russia has fired artillery from both inside and outside Russia’s border targeting Ukrainian soldiers. Moscow has also been condemned for sending in hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian aid destined for civilians caught in the war zone without Kiev’s authorization. Ukraine’s leaders charge that the aid trucks have covertly delivered military equipment to the rebels, an accusation that Moscow denies.
Just before inconclusive peace talks got underway on Aug. 26 between Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Belarus capital of Minsk, Ukraine reported that it had captured 10 Russian paratroopers on Ukrainian territory, which they said was proof of Russia’s interference in the conflict. Russian state media stated that the soldiers had crossed the border by mistake. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with David Kotz, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, who assesses the rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the danger that the U.S. and NATO could be drawn into the nation’s escalating civil war.
To listen to interview with David Kotz, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, conducted by Scott Harris, visit: Between The Lines – David Kotz: Russia and Ukraine Tensions Could Draw U.S. and NATO Into Nation’s Civil War (Week Ending Sept. 5, 2014).