According to a CBC article, a news conference on the Ukraine crisis was held on Sunday by the pro-Russian separatist leader and self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov. Talks are about to begin for the release of the eight OSCE observers detained in the city. They were shown unharmed but acting nervously in front of cameras. German Col. Axel Schneider spoke on behalf of the group of detainees. He emphasized that they were on a diplomatic mission for the OSCE and that NATO was not involved; they were not spying on behalf of the agency.
He went on to say that the mayor of the city was holding them as “guests” and there was a promise made for them not to be mistreated. Schneider said he was a man of his word and that this was true so far. A Swedish member of the team was released on humanitarian grounds as he has diabetes. The rest of the group includes a civilian interpreter, three German officers as well as officers from Czech Republic, Denmark, and Poland.
Schneider went on to say that their capture was a political move in the Ukraine crisis and they would likely use them for negotiations. As talks began Ponomaryov said that the OSCE Observers could be released in exchange for jailed pro-Russian activists. The exact number of jailed activists was not given by the mayor, but he suggested that there were several dozen.
The insurgents captured three security service officers from Ukraine on Sunday. They were stripped of their shoes and trousers. Igor Strelkov, the commander of the insurgents, said that it was the mission of the officers to seize leaders of the pro-Russian force.
The Security Service for Ukraine confirmed in a statement that its officers were seized on a mission to detain a citizen of Russia suspected of killing a parliamentary member of Ukraine.
The Group of Seven including the U.S. and other nations announced plans for economic sanctions on Russia in response to its actions in the Ukraine. More sanctions are being planned by the European Union. Several ambassadors are to meet today in Brussels to add to the list of officials in Russia who have been hit by travel bans and asset freezes.
According to another CBC article, more sanctions and penalties towards Russia for its actions in the Ukraine crisis include plans to impede high-technology exports to the defense industry in Russian, according to a White House aide. Tony Blinken, the Deputy National Security Adviser said they will impose new sanctions against Putin’s that will significantly impact the Russian economy.
Apparently the current sanctions against Putin are not enough. However, there have been some effects, including the fact that since the beginning of the year, financial markets are down 22 percent and the ruble is at an all-time low. Also, $70 billion in capital has been moved out of Russia.
According to an article in RTE news, France is warning that there will be “incalculable consequences” if the Ukraine crisis continues to deteriorate. Laurent Fabius, a French Foreign Minister said on French television that the situation worries him, that when incidents like this occur, and people are incensed, terrible things happen. The Ukraine crisis is just beginning and as talks begin for the release of the OSCE observers, the world waits with bated breath to see what will happen next.
By Nicole Drawc