On the night of April 6th, Pro-Russian Groups seized military arms and declared one province of Ukraine a separatist republic. These are the largest moves made since March in the ongoing crisis between Kiev, Moscow, and the West.
The overnight takeover of 3 cities in eastern Ukraine looks eerily like how the events in Crimea played out, and that is Kiev’s position as well. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Arseny Yatseniuk, said Monday, ” An anti-Ukrainian plan is being put into operation … under which foreign troops will cross the border and seize the territory of the country…We will not allow this.”
These separatists, after taking the cities of Kharkiv, Lugansk, and Donetsk, demand that referendums be held, like those in Crimea weeks ago, on whether or not to join Russia. If these lands join Russia, which could happen by the beginning of May, would be a loss of land equal to the size of South Carolina, and would be another step closer for Putin to take Kiev.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, that the US is watching the events in Ukraine with great caution, and any further steps to destabilize the region would “incur further costs for Russia.”
Kerry “called on Russia to publicly disavowed the activities of separatists, saboteurs and provocateurs” in Ukraine, the Department of State said. He and Lavrov will be discussing peace talks between Ukraine, Russia, the US, and the EU coming in 10 days.
It is presumed that Russia will, if it decides to annex these oblasts, take them like they did Crimea. Already we have seen the similar first step: “Pro-Russian Protesters” taking government buildings. The 40K+ Russian troops who are already on the border between Russia and Ukraine have been outfitted with quick-movement arms, which means they could seize these oblasts with minimal cost to life.
We have an option that we can take right now. I want more, stronger sanctions too, but I am going to focus on another course of action we can take. These oblasts, unfortunately, will probably be annexed into Russia. We can, however, reinstate missile defense systems in Poland and put them in Romania. Both of these nations are NATO members, and understand the dangers of letting Putin take Ukraine.These anti-missile systems would draw a line where Putin must stop, where he cannot go without further, much harsher consequences. We then must use sanctions and diplomacy to try to save Ukraine before it is too late.