For several months now, Ukraine has been battered by internal conflict. You can read more about the events here that led to a ceasefire. Called the Minsk peace deal, it was signed in February this year.
A key issue of the agreement was to settle how the eastern war-torn regions of Donetsk and Luhansk would be governed. As the Ukrainian parliament met in the capital city of Kiev to debate the issue, protestors began to gather outside the building.
As soon as the members of Parliament approved a draft bill proposing greater autonomy (freedom) in the war-torn regions, pro-Ukraine nationalists clashed with the police.
Both Donetsk and Luhansk, which are largely rebel-controlled, have declared themselves Republics, independent of Ukraine. As per reports, the rebels have set up their own government and armies.
Even as Kiev cut all government expenditure in these areas, the rebel governments have introduced their own taxes, public wages, and pensions. They favor the Russian rouble, and trade has become focused on Russia. These are strong indications that the self-declared republics are gradually liberating themselves from Ukraine and shifting loyalties to the Russian Federation.
The republics have not been recognized by Kiev or by Western leaders. The Ukrainian government is still attempting to grant a certain measure of autonomy to the regions, which is far lesser than the independence that is already being claimed by the rebels. Ukrainian President Poroshenko is also seeking to reduce the losses being suffered by the national army.
However, polls show that Ukrainians resent any special status being granted to the regions. Those against Russia hold President Putin responsible for the civil war and the ensuing damage to Ukraine. They believe that recognizing the separatists would threaten Ukraine's sovereignty.
The Kiev Conflict
On 31st August, the parliament session saw intense debates. Of the 450 members, 265 favored a draft bill containing reforms for local governments in rebel-held areas. This draft will be revised and re-read in parliament before changes can be made to the Constitution.
However, the draft itself offended Ukrainian nationalists. Several protestors including members from the Radical party and Svoboda party clashed with police forces outside the parliament building. Shields and helmets worn by Ukranian police were seized and used against the police officers. Soon after, masked protestors threw grenades into the police lines, killing some and injuring many others.
It is still unclear if the reforms will be pushed any further by President Poroshenko. Latest reports from the battlefront indicate that there has been a drop in the intensity of fighting between both sides. With the economic sanctions against Russia and a drop in oil prices, the war is becoming expensive for Russia to support.
It remains to be seen if this ceasefire will last, or is it merely a temporary halt to stock up more supplies for the future.