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Tensions rise in Ukraine

5 March 2014 By Jonathan Munshaw, Editor-in-Chief One Comment

Tensions are growing on a daily basis between Ukraine, Russia and Western powers as the United States continues to monitor the stationing of Russian troops in Ukraine’s southern region of Crimea.

Ukraine just went through a government change after over a month of protests between the government and some Ukrainians that led to a number of deaths and hundreds of injuries.

There is now a standoff in Ukraine between the two countries, and no violence has occurred in the confrontation as of Wednesday.

In a response to Russia’s actions, the U.S. is preparing potential sanctions that would cut off the overseas assets of Russian businessmen and companies and it would impose travel bans on some Russian officials.

But, political science professor James Roberts said the U.S. doesn’t have as much of a say as they would like in the conflict.

“I think there are so few options,” Roberts said. “Putin and Soviet leaders in general regard Ukraine as part of the Soviet sphere of influence. When everything is this public, it is tough to negotiate without backing down. There’s not a lot of room for these kinds of sanctions. Even if they were executed it wouldn’t be enough for Putin to abandon what Russia is doing in Crimea.”

President Obama is looking to get other European leaders on board with these penalties to give them more legitimacy, but Roberts said it is unlikely that other European countries, such as Germany, would want to jump on any serious penalties against Russia.

Other world powers are afraid that if Ukraine simply gave up Crimea, it would become an annex of Russia, which would eventually lead to Russia gaining significant influence over Ukraine.

“Nobody will give Crimea away,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said, according to CNN. “There are no grounds for the use of force against civilians and Ukrainians, and for the entry of the Russian military contingent.”

If this plan goes through for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ulrich Speck, a scholar at the Carnegie Europe think tank in Brussels, Germany said it could have dire consequences.

In an opinion piece for CNN, Speck wrote, “Putin’s broader plan is to recreate some kind of ‘Soviet Union lite,’ a ring of countries under Moscow’s control, with the goal of boosting Russia’s geopolitical standing.”

As Western powers continue to tell Russia to pull their troops out, Roberts said it is important to follow the situation because it could have a large impact on the current state of international politics.

“It would be disastrous. There would be a war in Ukraine, and it would be impossible to keep outsiders out of it,” he said. “Putin is not calling shots anymore than Obama is. It’s the soldier on the line with a gun who is calling shots. That soldier could fire shots on UN soldiers that could start a fight. If that happens, maybe Putin does have to live up to his word of moving farther into Ukraine.”

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