Sergei Grits/AP Photo
By Avery Wood
Current Affairs Editor
Conflict in Ukraine continues as Russia begins extending its influence past Crimea.
Russian forces and Ukrainian insurgents favoring Russia have moved into east Ukraine, occupying government buildings. American and United Nations (U.N.) officials have made accusations that Russian forces are responsible for aiding the insurgents and causing the conflict to spread. These claims were supported when, on April 15, a police station in eastern Ukraine was occupied by separatists and a man who identified himself as Alexander Shulzhenko said that he was a lieutenant colonel of the Russian army. The Ukrainian insurgents are demanding a vote to join Russia, similar to the one recently held in Crimea.
According to Time magazine, Kiev has not declared a state of emergency because doing so would prevent them from holding the election that is scheduled to take place on May 25, during which a permanent leader will be chosen. Using force to remove the Russian soldiers was an objectionable option because it would give Russia a reason to send troops to protect ethnic Russians, as Putin argued when confronted about Russian troops in Crimea.
Even so, according to Time magazine, presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko has called for “a nationwide resistance to the Russian aggressor using all available means, including a total mobilization.” This included asking “patriotic” civilians to join the Ukrainian military. She and President Turchynov have also asked the United States and the UN to send military force and peace keepers, but none of the countries have given any indication that they will interfere militarily. Obama has stated that he will not go to war with Russia over Ukraine, according to Time magazine.
The U.S. and the U.N. are addressing the issue in other ways. Sanctions have been placed on Russian politicians and the US has sent 300,000 meals for the Ukrainian soldiers. In addition, there have been UN meetings discussing the conflict during which U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power insisted that the conflict was orchestrated by Russia, and Prime Minister of Poland Donald Tusk encouraged Ukraine to begin military action, despite warnings from Russia not to do so. President Obama has also urged Putin to use his influence to convince the pro-Russian activists to cease their occupation of government buildings in Ukraine during a phone call. The U.S. will also give Ukraine a loan of $1 billion and Vice President Biden will visit Ukraine to show support.
NATO officials are theorizing that Putin is attempting to rebuild the Soviet Union and that Russia has tens of thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border.