Earlier in the week, Xinhau, the Chinese state news agency, reported that the rebels in Donetsk are preparing to hold another referendum to succeed from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation.  The Ukrainian press also picked up the Donetsk announcement quoting the leader of the DPR, Zakharchenko, “Russian President Vladimir Putin once again stressed during his ‘direct line’ [telephone call-in show] that there is no alternative to a political settlement of the situation in the Donbas. He stressed that the residents of Donbas should be given the right to decide how they live, and with whom, and under what conditions.” With increased shelling around the strategically important port city of Mariupol, the main barrier preventing a Russian land bridge to the previously annexed Crimean Peninsula, it seems possible that Mr. Putin has decided to go all-in regarding Russian control of East Ukraine.



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