Separatists don’t see imminent all-out war in Eastern Ukraine

DONETSK: Politicians and military sources in Russian-backed breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine say they do not see an imminent risk of full-scale war while attempts are still under way to find a diplomatic solution.
A long-simmering conflict between the Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian army is part of a deeper crisis between the two countries in which Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders, prompting U.S. warnings of a possible attack within days or weeks.
Andrei Purgin, a local politician and former separatist leader, told media he expected no significant changes for now in low-level hostilities along the line of contact between the two sides, where international monitors keep a tally of explosions and other ceasefire violations that sometimes runs to hundreds of incidents a day.
But he said he expected the next six months to be “very difficult,” predicting a big shift one way or another in a conflict that the Ukrainian government says has killed about 15,000 people since 2014 in the eastern Donbass region.
“This will either be a final peace, or there is a very high probability of very serious escalations,” he said.
Two separatist sources told media they did not expect a major military escalation until at least spring. “The time for diplomacy has not yet passed,” said one of the sources, who is close to the separatist command. –Agencies