War - and it IS war - has escalated again over the last few weeks. The stories out of Mariupol and Debaltseve are simply awful. While Russia says over and over again that they are not there, my friends in Ukraine shrug in frustration and tell me - "Russia's there. They know it, we know it, everyone knows it. It's not even a secret."
Tension is growing in the land I love. The exchange rate for the Ukrainian hrivna to US dollar used to be 8 to 1; now it's 20 or more to 1. People are losing their jobs, even in Kyiv. Thousands of people are displaced from the eastern cities, streaming into already full refugee centres.
One of my friends is a doctor who helps in two of those centres. It's hard to keep illness at bay when so many families are crowded into one large space, blankets hung between them in an effort at privacy. Germs and viruses spread unimpeded. "They need fresh air, the place needs to be aired out ... but it's winter. We can't."
Today - the Ukrainian parliament had a landmark vote to strip MPs and judges of immunity - this is part of their ongoing work to root out government corruption. That's good news.
Today - Kerry (US) is in Kyiv. There are rumours of the US beginning to lean towards arming Ukraine so they can defend against the aggression. So far, the official word is the opposite of this, though.
Today - Merkel (Germany) and Hollande (France) are suddenly travelling to Kyiv, and then to Moscow, apparently to offer a new, possibly last-ditch peace agreement.
Canada recently sent more humanitarian aid. My friends in various humanitarian aid organizations are doing all they can to help.
My Ukrainian friends in Krivoy Rog / Kryvyy Rih
sent me a message yesterday.
"We love you Patti! We are praying for you!"
So watch Ukraine today. And tomorrow. And the day after that.
And pray for our world.
Couple of reliable news sources for you:
(P.S. Don't - just don't - post to me that the CIA started the whole thing, or that the Ukrainian government is full of fascists, or some such ridiculous conspiracy theory. Just don't. OK? Thanks.)