Ukraine's military published a map that suggests Russian-backed forces have secured crucial territory between the stronghold of Russian-backed separatists and a strategic Ukrainian city.
A shaky cease-fire is currently in place in eastern Ukraine, although residents say it still feels like war.
If the new map is accurate, the situation further raises the specter that Moscow-backed separatists want to capture the port city of Mariupol.
"Ukraine's security council finally admits rebels have taken control of border area all the way down to Sea of Azov," journalist Alec Luhn said of the map.
The city, if overrun, would provide Russia a strategic link between the rebel-held regional capital Donetsk to the north, the Azov Sea to the south, and the land route to the Crimean peninsula (which Russian special forces annexed in March).
Here's a look at the battlefield as of Monday, according to Reuters:
Russian President Vladimir Putin's aim in Ukraine seems to involve creating a frozen conflict with a breakaway region in Ukraine's southeast corner so that Putin can impose his will on the former Soviet republic.
Creating a land bridge with Crimea would be an even more aggressive option.
Putin has a lot of things going for him in the medium-to-long term, including Ukraine's imploding economy, the threat of a further Russian invasion, the hesitance of Europe, the fact that winter is coming, and the state of Ukraine's battered army and militias.
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