MOSCOW: Tensions are rising over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, with growing violations of a cease-fire and a massive Russian military buildup near its border with the region.
Ukraine and the West have become worried about the Russian troops’ concentration and have urged Moscow to pull them back. Russia has argued that it’s free to deploy its forces on its territory and sternly warned the government in Kyiv against using force to reclaim control of the rebel-held territory east where more than 14,000 people have died in seven years of fighting.
Here’s a look at some of the issues involving the conflict in eastern Ukraine:
What are the roots of the conflict?
Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse, and since then Russia has sought to keep the neighbor in its orbit. The separatist conflict in Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as the Donbas, short for Donetsk Basin, erupted in April 2014. That came a few weeks after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula following the ouster of a Moscow-friendly president by a popular uprising in the capital of Kyiv.
Armed rebels in the mostly Russian-speaking eastern region seized government buildings and proclaimed “people’s republics” in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions, and the Ukrainian military and volunteer battalions moved to put down the unrest.
Ukraine and the West said Russia sent troops and weapons to the east to support the separatists. Moscow has denied those claims and insisted that Russians fighting alongside the rebels went there on their own.
Amid the hostilities, a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet traveling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down on July 17, 2014, over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Dutch prosecutors allege it was shot by a Russian Buk missile from an area controlled by the Russia-backed separatists. Russia denied any involvement.
The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Moscow for its annexation of Crimea, which wasn’t recognized by most of the world, and its support for the separatists. The restrictions have halted the transfer of Western technology and blocked Russia’s access to global

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