In the midst of an ongoing military offensive launched by Ukraine’s government, military forces were able to take back a pro-Russian separatist occupied airfield near the town of Kramatorsk. Less than 100 miles away from the Russian border, Russian president Vladimir Putin has flexed his muscles, stationing thousands of Russian troops, tanks, fighters jets, and military equipment. Putin has made threats to invade under the pretext of protecting ethnic Russians from what he considers Ukrainian oppression of their right to protest.
Ukraine’s government has shined a different light on the issue, claiming the pro-Russian protesters are not demonstrating peacefully, but that they are occupying government buildings and sowing unrest into the region. Ukraine’s official stance also includes that Russia is promoting the insurgency with paid operatives amongst the pro-Russian ranks.
The military operation under the command of General Vasily Krutov is being conducted in Ukraine’s eastern region where a majority of the unrest is taking place. Separatists have claimed as many as 10 cities in eastern Ukraine, occupying government buildings there and hoisting Russian flags atop of them. Russia maintains that the people inside are in need of protection despite the provocation.
Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev said on his Facebook account “Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, it’s frightening.”
Head of the Ukrainian National Security Council, Andriy Parubiy, has called for veterans of the Kiev uprising to take up arms to defend the nation against pro-Russia separatists.
Ukraine has set up military checkpoints, preventing civilians from entering the region. One military checkpoint north of the town Slovyansk has been running since Saturday.
The “anti-terrorist” operation underway in Ukraine is in for the long haul claim Ukrainian officials. The upheaval caused by Crimea’s annexation has cascaded into a full-blown territorial conflict say observers and the mission to eradicate the pro-Russian separatists will be a costly and timely one. Putin has inflamed matters, openly encouraging the insurgents. The U.N. has chastised Putin’s comments on the matter.
According to CNN, while there is no “large-scale military operation” involving military helicopters or planes, there are confirmed reports of Ukrainian special forces being deployed in particular areas of concern. One area being the airfield taken from separatists by the Ukraine military.
Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov has made it known that he intends to conduct the operation as delicately as possible as to not give Russia an excuse to invade. The words “responsibly” and “cautiously” followed his statement of Ukraine’s intent to deploy military operations in the east. Turchynov added that the operation was to “stop attempts to tear Ukraine to pieces.”
Conflicting reports of the operation at the airfield from Russia and Ukraine have also led to some controversy. Russian state television said that 11 people died in the ensuing military operation while Ukrainian officials have said there were no casualties.
The escalation of Ukraine’s civil conflict following Crimea’s annexation has worried observers who say the stability of Ukraine’s economy and political institutions are at stake in this fight. The incident that started it all, the conflict over former Ukrainian president Yanukovych’s extension of trade ties to Russia at the expense of Europe is all but lost on a now primarily territorial issue between ethnic Russians and Ukrainians.
By: John Amaruso