: RFE/RL: In eastern Ukraine, 'too many troops willing to fire' - interview

13:55 Apr. 30, 2016

RFE/RL: In eastern Ukraine, 'too many troops willing to fire' - interview

In this photo taken on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, a bus is seen on the road in Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine. (AP Images)

Crisis Group's Senior Europe and Central Asia Program Adviser Paul Quinn-Judge on Russian-Ukrainian conflict 

Violations of a fragile internationally brokered cease-fire between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine are at their highest level in months. Paul Quinn-Judge, a senior adviser to the International Crisis Group who just returned from the demarcation line that separates the two sides, attributes the volatile situation to the numbers and proximity of troops along the line of separation, and their willingness to fire on one another, according to the Radio Liberty.

Read also UN: 9,300 killed in Donbas

RFE/RL: The current situation in eastern Ukraine looks like it's neither peace nor war. What is your assessment of the state of the conflict?

Paul Quinn-Judge: I think the situation right now is very disturbing. I think we've seen a gradual decline and deterioration of the cease-fire probably since the beginning of this year. As you remember, it started off quite well in September when it finally got going, but violations are becoming greater on both sides. My feeling right now is that the only reason that we as journalists and the public as well are not hearing so much about the situation in the east is that neither Moscow nor Kyiv has any interest in publicizing the fact that there are daily skirmishes along the front line. There are almost certainly people dying every day on the front line -- military people, and unfortunately, still, rather a lot of civilians as far as we can make out. So I think it's going into a very disturbing negative trajectory

Read also 10 things you need to know about Ukraine's crisis

RFE/RL: Do you think that the situation in eastern Ukraine is on its way to becoming a frozen conflict?

Quinn-Judge: No, I think there are a lot of people who are complacently predicting in Europe, and Ukraine, and in Russia that we're heading for a frozen conflict. As you know, I've just been traveling along the line of separation, and what strikes me is any assumption that we are heading for a frozen conflict is for the moment, premature. One of the big problems with the line of separation is that it doesn't really separate anything. Troops are facing each other across very short distances in places like Avdiyivka, where it's maybe 50 meters. Therefore the risks of something eventually going out of control cannot be excluded.

Read the full interview here

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