I have not posted on the situation in Ukraine for a while. There are some personal reasons for this, but it should be strongly noted that the war has not stopped. My read that it would die down due to Russia's commitment to Syria has been erroneous.
Or in plain English, I was wrong.
In the last 24 hours, well over 1,000 artillery (from mortar on up) have been fired along the contact line. Over half were centered, of course, on Donetsk. However, its not exclusively there. many are in the Lugansk oblast. Fighting in Shirokyne and Gorlovka is ongoing as well.
Maryinka is one of the most heavily fought over areas, much like Gorlovka. There are multi company battles that took place in the last 24 hours.
Its not just artillery exchanges, btw. Machine gun fire and small arms are also in play as are clashes with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles (BMPs).
In the mean time, in Crimea, the Russians have moved significantly more fighters and other military equipment into the peninsula. There has been claims, recently reiterated, nuclear weapons have been moved there as well.
Merkel has been pushing to keep the sanctions in place for Russia. With the odd and twitchy alleged rape case in Germany with the Russian German girl, there have been rumors the Russians have been using it as a method to try to undermine Merkel to get a more pliable German government. Russo German relations have deteriorated.
American Russian relations have not improved either. In fact, the Russians have designated the US as a major threat. The US has labeled Russia a threat, but not an existential one. The US is moving heavy armored equipment back into Europe to be cached in case of a war. Many items of US military procurement and development are now being line itemed to deal with Russia as well as China.