How did Ukraine become such a mess? (a 'mess' is a dirty, disorderly, chaotic situation)
Viktor Yanukovych was elected president of Ukraine in 2010. In 2013 he signed an economic agreement with Vladimir Putin of Russia that would have brought $15 billion of badly needed money to the Ukrainian economy.
It is also important for Ukraine to maintain a good relationship with Russia because the two countries are neighbors and Ukraine receives natural gas from Russia. Indeed, traditionally Ukraine has not paid its gas payments in a prompt (timely) manner and so a good relationship with Russia meant, under Yanukovych, that gas was continually supplied even though Ukraine was in debt to Russia.
Although there were claims that Yanukovych was 'corrupt', he had been fairly elected and there was going to be another election within a year. It would have been possible for someone else to be peacefully and fairly elected to replace him. ('corrupt' means dishonest - a corrupt politician often makes money illegally through his political and business connections)
Unbelievably, individuals who supported a rival political party began to protest this economic agreement between Ukraine and Russia. (a 'rival' political party is a party or organization that is against another political party or organization - a 'protest' is when a group of people get together publicly to demonstrate that they are unhappy with some policy or decision). The protests become more and more violent as the USA and EU seemed to support this anti-democratic action ('anti' means against - the protests became more violent and became designed to overthrow or get rid of the elected president).
Indeed, the rival political party (the other political organization which wanted power) encouraged more and more violent protests, hoping to get rid of Yanukovych before the next elections. They created a huge amount of destruction in Kiev and acted in an undemocratic and violent manner.
Ultimately Yanukovych was forced to leave Ukraine and new elections were held in which a very wealthy and pro-western businessman was elected President. ('pro' western means he favors the west over Russia). This new president, Poroshenko, made all of his money making and selling chocolate. So of course he should be a perfect president (that's sarcasm - of course this guy is not qualified to lead a country, but then again few leaders are really qualified - Obama certainly was never qualified.)
So the people of Ukraine got rid of (eliminated) one very wealthy guy (a guy with a lot of money) and they elected another very wealthy guy. If so many people were not suffering I would be laughing my butt off right now.
Yet, people in the eastern part of Ukraine no longer want to be a part of a unified (whole) Ukrainian nation and the current president is killing more and more civilians in a civil war in which organized groups of eastern Ukrainians are fighting (just as the protesters in Kiev did) against a government they don't like.
Among other things, this has lead to the tragedy of a commercial airplane being shot down. Due to the fact many people in Ukraine refused to choose the road of peaceful change, hundreds of innocent people died in a horrible plane crash and hundreds of innocent people die each day.
Basically, because a rival political party encouraged violent protests, and because the USA and EU supported this anti-democratic violence, hundreds of innocent people are being killed every day.
An article about the military attacks against civilians in eastern Ukraine:
Vocabulary from the article:
a rebel or a rebel city - a rebel is a person who does not obey or do what he/she is supposed to do. Politically a rebel is often someone or some group that opposes the dominant or stronger government of a territory. In the US Civil War the southern states were the rebellious or rebel states. A rebel city is a city that refuses to do what the central government wants it to do.
on the verge of - close to; if something is on the verge of happening, it will probably happen soon. i.e. We are on the verge of success! It could happen any day now!
a humanitarian catastrophe - a catastrophe is when something horrible happens. If a building collapses and many people die, that is a catastrophe. A humanitarian catastrophe means that many innocent people will probably die.
insurgent stronghold - insurgents are those who fight against a government which they feel is not legitimate (lawful or legal). Insurgents are rebels. A stronghold is a place which a military group can defend well.
a mayor - the leader of a city
a siege - when a military group completely surrounds a city and refuses to let any food or water get inside. That military group also tries to get the city to surrender or they attempt to invade (forcefully enter) the city.
the hub - a hub usually means a central location but in this case it means a place where many people live and work
shelling - shells are large explosive things that are shot out of cannons so that lots of people will be killed. To shell a city means to shoot many of these huge explosive devices into a city to kill people.
scores of civilians - a score is 12, so scores means 'lots' - civilians are non-army people, just normal people
to tighten your grip on something - to gain greater control of something
to hunker down somewhere - to get comfortable somewhere and to kind of dig in at a specific place
blockade - when a city is surrounded and no food or supplies can get in
incessant - not ending, continuous
brutal - not merciful, not gentle, very harsh, very severe, horrible and cruel
severed - cut in half, cut, interrupted
overstretched - there is not enough, so they are stretching what they have...only providing a little bit instead of a lot
butchers - these are folks who kill animals and sell the parts as food
halted - stopped
pensions - money a person gets after he stops working; money a person gets after he retires
to have fled - to have run to or escaped to