12:01 Aug. 7, 2016
July was the deadliest month in the Donbass for over a year
Whilst the world's attention is focused on Syria, the U.S. election and the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, eastern Ukraine once again teeters on the unthinkable. Last month was the deadliest the region has seen in over a year, sparking growing fears of the conflict re-escalating to its previous intensity.
The conflict has killed 10,000 people since it began in April 2014. While casualties have continued at a much reduced level since spring 2015, in recent months both sides have returned to using heavy artillery, including howitzers and ‘grad' multiple rocket launchers. In July, the United Nations reported that eight died and 65 were injured.
With escalating violence, it is getting much harder for international organizations to monitor the situation. Humanitarian assistance missions have also been hindered by the military up-tick and political problems with de facto authorities in the separatist statelets of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Just last week, monitors from the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) were held at gunpoint by separatist forces.
Separatist forces in eastern Ukraine have heightened their rhetoric. This week, Denis Pushilin, the self-declared chairman of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), told pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia that there was a risk of full-scale military operations returning to the conflict. The DPR stood ready to retaliate, he said.
Tensions are rising in Kiev, too.
Ukraine's head of National Security and Defence Oleksandr Turchynov spoke of re-introducing martial law in frontline regions, something has not happened since 2014.