“The smallest spark can raise tremendous fires,” said Verum, “A dispute over grocery shopping spiraled into full-fledged fighting in a conflict-prone area of Ukraine.”

“How do you go from buying milk and eggs to fighting a battle?” said a puzzled Orak.

“It’s a complicated situation,” replied Verum, “To understand it, we first need to know a bit of Ukraine’s history. Until 1991, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union. After the latter collapsed, Ukraine declared its independence. However, Russia has tried to keep Ukraine under its influence.”

“In 2014, Ukrainian protestors took to the streets which led to the deposing (removal from power) of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, a pro-Russian leader,” continued Verum, “A separatist conflict broke out in Ukraine’s Donetsk Basin region. Armed rebels announced people’s republics in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions.”

“Was Russia involved in this?” said Felix.

“Ukraine and its Western allies claim that Russia sent troops and weapons to support these separatists but Russia has denied them,” replied Verum, “Everyone involved signed a treaty in 2015. However, the war was prolonged and a 279-mile frontline was formed. A frontline is the part of the army closest to the enemy. Here, the slightest disagreement can snowball into an armed conflict.”

“Is that what happened in today’s news?” said Scorch.

“Yes. In a place called Hranitne near this frontline, people lead a strange life. Between Ukraine’s army and the separatist army lies a buffer zone. No one controls this strip of land. Local people have to cross the frontline via a footbridge to shop or send their kids to school,” said Verum, “But the separatists closed a checkpoint on their side where people go shopping. In response, the town’s administrator led a group of dozen soldiers across the footbridge. The military also began building a new bridge some distance away.”

“What happened next?” said Felix.

“The separatists viewed this as a land grab. Soon, they began firing at the Ukrainian side with heavy weapons. They fired through the day and night, destroying houses,” said Verum, “Worried, Ukrainian commander, Major Oleksandr Sak requested a counterstrike from a sophisticated new weapon – an armed drone.”

“I doubt that went well,” said Orak.

“No, it didn’t. Russia had been anyway amassing troops and weapons in huge numbers near the border. The country viewed the drone strike as growth in conflict undertaken by Ukraine,” said Verum, “So, now, the West is worried that Russia will use this as an opportunity to attack Ukraine again. And in doing so, it will draw the United States and other countries into this conflict.”

“That’s a tense situation indeed,” said Scorch.