Ukraine Crisis Escalates Further as Russia Intervenes

Hassan Sayed ’15

After months of protest, the Ukrainian Euromaidan situation (which was outlined in an Edsman article here: https://stedsman.com/2014/02/28/ukraine-at-the-forefront-of-euromaidan/) has further escalated as Russia has become involved in these events and the United States has subsequently responded to Russia’s actions.

The complications began with Crimea, a Northeastern Ukrainian province, where, ethnically, the predominate culture and language is Russian. Following the recent replacement of the use of the Russian language with Ukrainian in many public affairs (e.g. courts), violence broke out between Pro-Russian and Pro-Euromaidan demonstrators. Coupled with the removal of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, the events led Crimea to seek Russian assistance.

On 28 February, Russia began sending in troops into Crimea to occupy important locations throughout the region; and while this action violated certain treaties, it should be noted that Russia has had soldiers stationed in Crimea for many years. Nevertheless, the move prompted great outcry from the interim Ukrainian government, protestors, and the greater international community. Currently, the greatest points of tension are the intimidating standoff of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet against Ukrainian naval forces in the Black Sea and “games of chicken” between Ukrainian and Russian land forces. Currently, Russia has control over Crimea, though Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that he does not intend to begin a war with the greater Ukraine and will only use actual force as a final resort. Rather his biggest concern is to limit the actions of “nationalists and radical extremists that are rampant on the streets of Kiev.”

Russia’s actions have specifically prompted great reaction from the United States. US Secretary of State John Kerry has offered a $1 billion loan in support of the interim Ukrainian government. Additionally, the US has greatly condemned Russia’s actions, and has even suggested economic and diplomatic sanctions towards the country. More frighteningly, however, this represents a revival of greatening tensions between the US and Russia, two superpowers with enormous economic, military, and diplomatic strength. If there is an ultimate dispute between these two nations in the Ukrainian situation, there is potential for similar situations to rise in other regions of the world; however, if the Ukrainian situation is resolved, there is lesser chance that the events will escalate to the degree of a new Cold War. Fortunately, the interim Ukrainian government is not conducting negotiations with Russia. Additionally, the US does seek to hold further negotiations regarding the matter with Russia. Finally, mediators are being dispatched by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to help improve the situation. Hopefully, the matter will be taken care of. But if no resolution is able to come to pass, then the world must prepare for the potential consequences.

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