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It has been more than a year since the crisis in Ukraine has started, and neither side has made any successions to the other. The crisis started after the Russian annexation of Crimea, with Russian backed rebels taking up arms in eastern Ukraine in order to become independent of Ukraine. A report by the Royal United Services states that Russia has had direct involvement in the conflict between the Ukrainian military and the rebels from the east. The report brings to light the fact that Russia has had regular troops on the ground in Ukraine, peaking last December with over 10,000 troops in the disputed region. They go on to claim that Russian involvement on the ground began in about mid-July after the rebels lost a costly battle to Ukrainian government forces. This also confirms an investigation from February that suggested that Russia fired artillery shells into the Ukraine from inside Russia.
The Russian involvement was prompted by the success of Ukrainian government forces during late June, early July. With the Ukrainian crisis still in full swing people may ask; What does Russia gain from destabilizing the region? Well it is simple, starting with the annexation of Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, Russia controls a valuable place in the Mediterranean Sea. Russia now has access to very valuable off-shore oil reserves with Crimea, which has been the home of the Russian Navy for years. With eastern Ukraine and the rebellion it would appear that Russia is trying to weaken the country as a whole. What the rebels are after is the chance to become autonomous of Ukraine, but still hold seats in the countries parliament. This would enable them to push a pro-Russian agenda in the country.
As of now a cease-fire is in effect between the two parties, but it is not certain that it will last. NATO is not very happy about the involvement of Russia in the Ukrainian crisis. After comments made by a US diplomat concerning Russian tanks seen crossing the border, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called for an end to Russian involvement in Ukraine. Without commenting specifically on the Russian tanks Stoltenberg was quoted saying “We … still see Russian presence and strong support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine. We see the delivery of equipment, forces, training. And so Russia is still in eastern Ukraine. Therefore we call on Russia to withdraw all its forces from eastern Ukraine and to respect the Minsk agreement.”
The cease-fire that is in effect is the third to be set since the conflict started. It does not sound like much to ask of Russia, to respect the neighboring Ukraine and not try to further divide the country, but as of yet they have done nothing to stop. The economic sanctions placed on Russia have yet to have any sort of impact on the situation. It does not appear as though Russia has any plans on stopping its advance, and as Russia advances Ukraine bleeds. For now though the crisis in Ukraine continues and it does not look as though it will be stopping anytime soon.
Opinion by James Dixson
Photo by: Trey Ratcliffe – Flickr License