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The conflict in Ukraine has caused more than 3,000 deaths since it broke out in March 2014.

Pro-Russian separatists, having been on the defensive during the summer, have re-taken significant territory from government forces recently, allegedly supported by increasingly overt help from Russia.

The EU and the US have imposed wide-ranging sanctions, including ‘tier three’ sanctions designed to damage the Russian economy, as well as more targeted travel bans and asset freezes on individuals associated with the unrest.

However, the EU remains divided on how far to push the sanctions. The latest round, which amplified the existing sanctions rather than embarking on radically new moves such as attempting to get the Russian 2018 World Cup moved or boycotted, has been suspended after opposition from certain EU Member States. Some EU members have much more important economic ties and energy dependence than others.

The EU says that it is going to monitor the present ceasefire before deciding whether to implement the sanctions. Pro-Russians have demanded that Ukraine should be federalised as part of the ceasefire plan. Many politicians in Kiev reject this as a move towards dismembering Ukraine or at least permanently destabilising it.

NATO has increased its patrols in Eastern Europe and has resolved to set up a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force to enable to it to respond more quickly to any potential threat from Russia. NATO argues that the stronger military presence on its eastern flank does not violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997.

Russian strategists may be prepared for the long haul on Ukraine, ready to suffer considerable economic hardship to protect what they see as fundamental security interests. In any case, Vladimir Putin’s muscular foreign policy in pursuit of his strategy of protecting ethnic Russians outside Russian borders seems to be paying off in increased public support at home.

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