As the world looked on to the unfolding tragedy caused by the missile attack in the suburbs of Mariupol, the conflict in Eastern Ukraine has reached another impasse.

With this latest attack leaving 30 confirmed dead, and many more injured, it has fuelled quarrelsome rhetoric between the Ukrainian government, rebel militants and members of the Kremlin.

The escalating situation has triggered a turn of events on the front lines, sparking bitter rhetoric as the conflicting factions aimed to distance themselves from the attack.

Before the tragedy became evident in the public sphere, Alexander Zakharchenko – leader of the Donetsk faction of pro-Russian militants – announced that an assault on Mariupol had begun. Only when the scale of the incident became clear did he deny any assault was taking place, saying: ‘nobody is planning to storm Mariupol’, as the Guardian reported.

As the details continued to emerge, a rebel spokesperson claimed to the media that Ukraine had fired the missiles by mistake.

This statement has since been challenge by Human Rights Watch and other international monitors, who examined craters and confirmed that the missile had been launched and fired from rebel-held territory.

Whilst the Russian government was slow to give a response, it later blamed the government in Kiev for the escalation of violence in recent weeks.

At the United Nations, Russia blocked a Security Council statement condemning the rebels for their announcement of the attack on Mariupol.

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov even informed his US counterpart John Kerry via phone call that Ukrainian forces were ‘constantly shelling’ residential areas, without directly mentioning Mariupol as Kerry stated to the media.

The culture of blame is again repeating itself, much as it did in relation to the downing of Flight MH17 in July, last year.

The conflict has become opaque as each side has been so eager to discredit the other, leading to a contradiction of the facts relating to atrocities unfolding in the region. The constant political bickering has only widened divisions as to which side bears responsibility for driving the violence in recent months.

With the European Union’s Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini now urging Moscow to ‘use its considerable influence’ to sway rebel leaders in the wake of the Mariupol attack, the Kremlin has continued to voice its innocence.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, has however challenged Russia’s stance by claiming that there were 9,000 regular Russian troops operating in Eastern Ukraine. This allegation is likely to enhance military rhetoric, instead of defusing heightened tensions in the region.

 

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/25/russia-kiev-ukraine-violence-mariupol

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30967949

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/24/us-ukraine-crisis-casualties-idUSKBN0KX08B20150124

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/24/missile-attack-pro-russian-rebels-ukraine-mariupol-donetsk

http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jan/21/davos-2015-day-1-al-gore-matteo-renzi-li-keqiang-live

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ukraine-city-of-mariupol-hit-by-deadly-rocket-fire-1422100691

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30974283