Inside Story

Is Russia testing Donald Trump in eastern Ukraine?

Pro-Russian separatists and government troops blame each other for increasing ceasefire violations.

In the past week, eastern Ukraine has suffered some of the heaviest fighting seen for a long time.

Heavy artillery fire, a car bomb explosion and other ceasefire violations coincided with a phone call between US President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart.

The two leaders discussed how to mend relations between the US and Russia.

US senators and analysts are wondering whether the surge in fighting is the Kremlin testing the water with the new US president.

Ukrainian government leaders and pro-Russia separatist rebels are blaming each other for the ceasefire violations.

Trump phoned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and promised to restore peace.

But between commitments to support the Ukrainian leadership in Kiev and improving relations with Putin, it remains to be seen what Trump will do.

So, will he be able to restore calm in Ukraine?

Presenter: Jane Dutton


Olexiy Haran; Professor Of Comparative Politics, University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

Sergei Markov; Former spokesman for President Vladimir Putin and Director of the Institute of Political Studies

Lilit Gevorgyan; IHS Global Insight analyst specialising in relations between Russia and Ukraine