Ceasefire breaks down, Ukrainian army prepares for siege of Donetsk

As the Ukrainian army has begun to encircle the separatist-held stronghold of Donetsk, separatists have begun to fortify the city and renewed calls to Russia to send troops to their aid. The 72 hour ceasefire agreed to on Friday has broken down, after accusations on both sides that neither kept their word. Separatist fighters have begun to confiscate vehicles and food throughout the industrial city, the second largest in Ukraine. Reports say the center of the city is almost completely deserted, and residents have begun to store everything in their cellars.

Separatists who have taken Doentsk’s administration offices have also erected barricades around the municipal center of the city. Some 1 million residents of the city and its surrounding area have fled since the Ukrainian army has apparently forced separatists to retreat into their two main strongholds inside of Donetsk and Luhansk. Electricity has been cut and food supplies into the city have begun to taper off. The city is harder to encircle because it is so large, and with major routes out blocked by separatist checkpoints, it is hard to get in or out.

Pro-government forces fired surface-to-surface rockets yesterday, which rained down on residential tower blocks. The barrage was meant to scare separatists out of their strongholds, who have declared their unwillingness to negotiate. Storming the city with ground troops has already been ruled out as the assault would likely result in heavy civilian casualties and military losses. Separatists are undoubtedly waiting for what they believe to be inevitable reinforcements from Moscow, a prospect which some Western commentators are concerned about.

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