Ukraine Crisis Deepens: Occupation, Sanctions and Troops on the Border
Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted last week to resolve the issue once and for all, the Ukraine crisis continues to see developments for the worse.
Russian separatists have held control over several government buildings in the Ukraine for four days. According to AFP Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has offered a deal “if people lay down their arms and free the administration buildings… we guarantee that we will not launch any criminal proceedings against them.” Despite his promise, the occupations continue as a blight in the midst of diplomatic talks between Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world.
Of chief concern for western leaders is the crisis expanding, not just militarily but economically. Putin issued a letter Thursday giving Russia the credit of subsidizing the Ukrainian economy. According to Putin, Russia has sold gas to Ukraine at a low price, even though the Ukraine owes Russia a substantial debt. Putin now wants advance payment for the natural gas or he “will completely or partially cease gas deliveries”, a move which would devastate Ukraine’s economy.
Since Russia supplies a lot of natural gas to Europe, leaders there are hesitant to impose any more sanctions. The United States is much less reluctant. Today, AFP reported that Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said “the United States is prepared to impose additional significant sanctions on Russia if it continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine”.
Russia continues to maintain its sizable military presence at the Ukrainian border. NATO published satellite photos of the Russian troop build up, estimating there could be as many as forty thousand troops stationed there. Director of the Comprehensive Crisis Operations and Management Centre at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Brigadier Gary Deakin said “The Russians have an array of capabilities including aircraft, helicopters, special forces, tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles… and these could move in a matter of hours. These forces have a destabilizing effect and present serious implications for the security and stability of the region,”
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