The Ukraine crisis continues as pro-Russian militants seized more state offices in the East on Tuesday. Apparently, they are acting out in defiance of Western sanctions that were announced against them earlier. The devastation and violence that is taking place in the East Ukraine at this time is by far the worst confrontation with the West in many decades, and it does not show signs of slowing anytime soon.
While in Minsk, the capital of Belarus where he attended a summit of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, President Vladimir V. Putin spoke out regarding the conflict by saying, “The government has already proposed some steps in response, but I consider that there is no need for this,” Mr. Putin told sources. However if the conflict continues, he said it would be necessary for Moscow to determine who works and how they work in key sectors of Russia’s economy to include energy. Putin went on to say that, the integration of the Eurasian union would not be affected by Western sanctions and denied that Russians had anything to do with the unrest in East Ukraine.
Late Monday, in Donetsk, peaceful demonstrators were met with violent attacks when masked men attacked marchers that were carrying a blue and yellow Ukrainian national flag. Several of the masked attackers carried bats and clubs with the intention of doing whatever it took to prevail. Then on Tuesday, pro-Russian, armed militants broke down doors as they stormed into the city of Luhansk’s regional government headquarters, which happens to be the capital of the Ukrainian region located closest to Russia on the eastern border. Just hours later, pro-Russian militants seized more offices during the Ukraine crisis when they took control of Yelena Bugayets’ prosecutor’s office. Meanwhile, Doneysk police officials stood by doing little or nothing to stop the attacks that were taking place against the elderly, women, and children who were in the words of Geoffrey R. Pyatt, the American ambassador to Ukraine, “willing to put it on the line” for the Ukraine.
These latest moves in East Ukraine came despite even more sanctions on Russia by the U.S. and the European Union, which was aimed at forcing the Kremlin to get activists under control. The renewed violence highlights the government’s inability to isolate militants knowing that elections are only weeks away and those pro-Russian militants most likely are hoping to derail the election.
The attacks in Luhansk mark the biggest advance made by the pro-Russian militants since earlier in April when they were able to take control of the SBU, Ukraine’s state security service regional building. Prior to the attacks on Luhansk, the East Ukraine unrest centered mainly in the neighboring region of Donetsk.
Now, in both cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, militants are demanding a referendum on the future of their region, and they hope to hold it on May 11. The activists would like closer links to Russia, and some would even like the area annexed like Crimea. As the Ukraine crisis continues and pro-Russian militants continue to seize more offices, senior Obama administration officials have said they are prepared to target broad sectors of Russia’s economy in the event Putin repeats the actions of Crimea by sending his military forces into the Ukraine.
By Donna W. Martin