Ukraine tension mounts as Russia masses military thousands of soldiers and mechanized units along nearly the entire Ukrainian border. In the wake of Crimea’s annexation sanctions have flown between Western Nations and Russia, as well as the Black Sea Peninsula. Despite concern that these steps may lead to an escalation of force in the region, Republican Representative of the House Intelligence Committee urged President Obama to increase economic pressure on Russia in a bid to stop Putin from claiming even more territory “to fulfill what he believes is rightfully Russia.” On top of that, the likelihood of a “reset” of relations between Russia and the U.S. seems to get slimmer by the day as peaceful options seem to be having little effect on Putin’s decisions to lay claim to whatever territories he seems to fancy.
As it stands sanctions have been placed on 27 Russian officials, and 4 Ukrainians. President Obama has also authorized sanctions to be placed on Russian financial services, metals and mining, defense and engineering and energy trades. Despite the massive amount of natural gas and other fuels that flow out of Russia and into Western Europe, Russia still stands to lose more than the rest of the EU if stricter sanctions come into play. New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is calling for those escalations, saying “I think we need to do more with sanctions, including sanctioning the entire financial sector of the Russian economy, as well as looking at the energy sector.” He is also calling for the U.S. to support Ukraine with communications equipment, technical assistance, and small arms as Ukraine tension mounts as Russia masses military forces along its eastern border.
Despite the tough economic stance of all countries involved, at this time it does not look like U.S. troops will be sent into the region, the strategy so far revolves around strengthening NATO presence in countries surrounding Ukraine, including Georgia, Poland, and Belarus. More focus is being placed on aiding the Ukrainian people, Richard Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, is heading a bill that guarantees over a billion dollars in loans, as well as food, sleeping bags, and fuel. Although soldiers will be sent as a last resort, it is widely accepted that Ukraine needs all the help it can get.
Obama is scheduled to travel to the Netherlands tomorrow as the first step in a six-day tour designed to mobilize nations against Russia in the wake of the hostile Crimean takeover. His current stance is one of diplomatic and economic actions, but he has joined talks with other European leaders regarding harsher consequences should those steps fail. In the midst of this President Obama has been taking flak at home and abroad of being naïve in the face of the old Russian bear, Mitt Romney spoke out saying “They [Obama] thought resetting relations with Russia, handing out gifts to Russia, would somehow make Russia change its objectives.” Now, as Ukraine tension mounts as Russia masses military forces, it is clear that Putin is not playing this game for minor gains, but looks to want to take the whole pot.
By Daniel O’Brien