The United States has warned President Vladimir Putin to not intervene in Ukraine with alleged peacekeeping or humanitarian assistance, which Russia appears to be setting themselves up to defy. According to reports coming out of the Ukraine, Russia has 45,000 military troops on the border. NATO has stated that the probability of Russian military intervention in Eastern Ukraine is high.
On Saturday, according to a senior U.S. State Department official, Russia’s Secretary of State Sergey Lavrov received a warning from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that Russia should not cross the border into the Ukraine at all and urged that the Russian and Ukrainian government should seek humanitarian assistance for the region through international aid groups.
Also on Saturday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Joe Biden spoke about the potential Russian military action in Ukraine. The two agreed that, without official authorization from the Ukrainian government, any attempt by the Russian military to cross over into Ukraine would be viewed as a violation of international law.
More International pressure came on Monday as European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso contacted Putin via a telephone, warning the Russian President that humanitarian assistance should not be a guise for a unilateral military action. Russia has maintained the stance that they only want a diplomatic solution to the growing crisis in the area and continues to deny any other deceptive motives.
With the continual warnings from the United States and Western nations to not defy warnings on entering Ukraine, The Kremlin, has clearly made it known that Moscow will enter the country with the sole purpose of assisting Russian-speaking population in the eastern part of the country. In a statement from the Kremlin, a Russian convoy of humanitarian aid would be working in collaborative effort with representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when crossing the border into Ukraine.
The ICRC responded that a document about delivering humanitarian aid was indeed submitted to both officials from Ukraine and Russia. However, the international aid group stressed that any ICRC operation in Ukraine would not occur unless all parties agreed and guaranteed safe passage to the aid group. The ICRC also stressed that they do not use armed escorts, further calling into question the Russian statements and 45,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.
While the Russian troop build up has been taking place on the border, Kiev has moved to surround the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, which is currently a Russian separatist stronghold. Donetsk is approximately two-hours from the border where the Russian troops are massing, and the city that Putin indicates the humanitarian aid would be directed to. The fear that forced the warning from Western nations to the Russian President not to move into Ukraine is that the alleged humanitarian assistance to the pro-Russian separatists would include military support.
A Fox News report indicated that, Donetsk, a city that once held a population of 1 million Ukrainians is all but deserted, with primarily just pro-Russian insurgents in the city. Ukraine forces have surrounded Donetsk to cut off the separatists supply routes and all the access to the city.
The separatists are reportedly facing continuous pressure in the city. Igor Strelkov, who also goes by Igor Girkin, says that the pro-Russians in control of Donetsk are cut off from outside support and on their own. Fox News indicates that some of these pro-Russians separatists have been calling for a cease-fire to save the city and their own lives. On the other side of the coin, there are reports saying that some separatists have publicly indicated “another Stalingrad” if Donetsk if invaded. That referenced the World War II battle that had the Nazi’s turned back by the Russians in Stalingrad.
In some areas, citizens who have been able to flee Donetsk have faced detention before reaching Kiev. In an attempt to decrease the chances of separatists from reaching the capital, people have been pulled off of trains to ensure none fleeing the city could infiltrate Kiev and attempt to incite more violence beyond Donetsk.
A Ukrainian security spokesman reported that Monday, denied claims from separatists that a Ukrainian rocket hit a prison in Donetsk that resulted in a riot allowing more than 100 prisoners to escape. Reports from rebels accusing the government forces of trying to retake the city with heavy artillery in their attempt to remove the Russian-separatists from Donetsk. Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian security spokesman reported the prison attack came about from the separatist fighters in the city.
If Russia does not defy the United States and stays out of the Ukraine, the standoff between the two nations could quickly come to an end. With Donetsk surrounded, the separatists would likely run out of supplies, allowing for the Ukraine forces to move in to retake the city. The city could even be taken quicker if the Ukraine military moves in on the weakened separatists.
By Carl Auer