Ongoing Conflict In Ukraine – Russian Troops Cross Border
Vladimir Putin’s Russia is again in the world spotlight less than one week after the Closing Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Russian troops have crossed the border into the Crimea region of Ukraine, a former satellite state of the Soviet Union. This conflict in Ukraine has stemmed from the violent protests that have embroiled the nation over the last three months.
Ukraine is a nation that is sharply divided between the pro-Russian East and the pro-European West. The protests began when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych (whom many in the West consider to be a Russian puppet) rejected a proposal for Ukraine to have a closer relationship with, and in time possibly join the EU. Over the past month, the protests have resulted in hundreds of casualties, the burning Independence Square in Kiev, and the ousting of Yanukovych.
Russian justification for their breach of Ukraine’s sovereignty is to protect the many ethnic Russians that live in the Eastern part of Ukraine who they feel are threatened by the pro- Western Ukrainian forces. Another key factor to consider (and likely the real reason of the Russian incursion) is the fact that Russia still maintains a Naval base in Sevastopol, Ukraine. This naval base is key to Russia’s military interests because it is Russia’s only warm weather naval base that has access to the Black Sea (and by extension, the Mediterranean Sea.) With the recent instability in Ukraine, Russia seems to be moving to protect this valuable military asset in Crimea from an uncertain future political situation in Ukraine.
So far the Whitehouse has been diplomatic yet firm in response to the conflict in Ukraine. President Obama conducted a 90 minute phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he called for restraint. In a recent press statement President Obama said, “We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine” and continued to characterize Russian intervention as a mistake saying, “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
This situation is fluid and PHG will have more updates as they develop.