There are early reports coming in of shells hitting downtown Donetsk for the first time since the shaky ceasefire of September 5th was signed. (No word on who is responsible yet, but Donetsk is currently held by separatist forces.) The casualty appears to be a Swiss national:
Violence had been ongoing in and around the Donetsk airport since the weekend, and according to the Interpreter
there are fresh signs that Russian-backed separatists are making progress in finally taking it from Kiev-allied forces.With the fighting forces in eastern Ukraine a collection of irregular troops under varying degrees of Kremlin control, it is a possibility that the escalation is organic and is not being approved in Moscow. But recall that Ukraine’s parliamentary elections are set for October 26th, and a preliminary deal for settling the dispute
with Gazprom for $3.1 billion is still not approved in Kiev. Given all we know of the conflict so far, it’s just as likely that this is Putin pulling on the chain to remind everyone concerned that he still very much retains the upper hand.