Ukrainian Crisis: Referendums In Eastern Ukraine

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The regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, in Ukraine, voted today on whether or not to become independent states. The results just came in, and they are: Surprise, independence.

The question on the ballot in Donetsk was: “”Do you support the self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic?” The “official” results from Donetsk are 89% yes, 10% no. The head of the election committee, Roman Lyagin, told reporters after the polls closed, “These can be considered the final results.” These numbers are much different than those which came out of a poll from the Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis, which said that among those asked only 4.7% of Donetsk residents supported independence.

The results for independence in Luhansk were similar in percentages.

The West made sure to pronounce their opposition to the votes. The State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “This is the Crimea playbook all over again. No civilized nation will recognize the results. And if Russia takes the next step to re-enact its illegal Crimea annexation in eastern or southern Ukraine and sends more forces over the border, harsh US and EU sanctions will follow.” A spokesperson for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, explained that, “Such a referendum, against the Ukrainian constitution, does not calm things down but escalates them.”

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The ballot question left it open to different interpretations, which may be one reason for the sky-high unification of the voters. The corruption is in the wording, which could be read as self-rule, autonomy, or independence, depending on the reader. It is also corrupt because of Vladimir Putin’s role in it. He called on the regions to postpone the votes, to begin, “direct, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine.” He said this so that when the regions ask to join Russia he can say that, though he was not a part of it, he must listen to what the people want. This is the way he can get around the illegality of this vote.

These votes and their results are illegal and must not be recognized. It is another step in the wrong direction, and is another one in the path toward Putin’s dream of an Eurasian Union.

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Ukrainian Crisis: Why This Is An Urban War and How To Handle It

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Cossacks Discuss Upcoming Donetsk Referendum. Credit Here.

It is hard to believe that this is my 13th post on the Ukrainian crisis so far, spanning 3 months, reporting in the modern form of journalism. Hundreds of people from over 30 different nations, including the major players in this crisis: the United States, Britain, Germany, France, and Russia. So now, I would like to discuss something that must be understood for the general public to understand my solutions to the crisis.

Ukraine is fighting an urban war against Russia. To explain this, let us go back to a few months ago, in March, when the conflict in the Crimean peninsula began. We saw the invasion of sovereign Ukrainian lands by soldiers without any distinguishable markings. The international community was stunned and many of us who understand foreign affairs cautiously warned that it may be the work of the Russian Federation.

It then became obvious that these “Pro-Russian Demonstrators” were in fact Russian troops, possibly part of the FSB, and definitely the Russian Army. By the end of March, Crimea had joined Russia through a corrupt referendum.

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Pro-Russian Soldier Defending A Stronghold in east Ukraine. Credit Here.

The violence then moved to the east, where forces have been fighting for months in the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv. The fighting has been in the streets of urban cities, some using Molotov cocktails, guns, cobblestones, and other weapons. With this violence, along with the 40K Russian troops on the border armed for the invasion of Ukraine, it proves that it is Putin and his government causing this unrest.

The bulk of the violence has not been in rural areas, with large tanks and weapons of mass destructions as you would expect in an invasion. The violence has been in the cities, with Russian troops disguised as citizen protestors, and really the only typical large weapons of invasion involved are BTR quick-movement armored vehicles and fast-attack helicopters.

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A heavily armed pro-Russian soldier. Credit Here.

So how can we handle this violence? This is a new type of war, one where it is harder for the West to quell the violence peacefully. This is why I propose 3 actions that need to be taken by the US and UK governments now:

1) President Obama Needs To Garner Public Support For Future Actions By The US

    This needs to occur before #2 or #3 can occur. He needs to address the American people in the same way he did in the Syrian conflict, sitting down and talk out what has happened, and why we need to take action upon it to prevent future bloodshed. I fully support every action he has taken so far, and I believe that an informed public will also.

2) Reinstate Anti-Missile Defense Systems In Poland

      Ever since the first sparks of violence in Crimea, I have wholeheartedly advocated for the West to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland, like they were in the Cold War. This will deter Mr. Putin from any movement west, toward the EU. Poland is one of our greatest allies around the world, and it is our obligation to protect them, and the rest of Europe.

3) Supply Non-Lethal Aid To Ukraine

    Ukraine is not a stable economic nation, especially as this crisis is tarnishing its land. It needs help to prevent Russia from taking any more of its land. The fact is, however, the American people are a war-weary nation. That is why I am advocating for body armor, fuel, and food to be sent to the Ukrainians, things that will not cause direct lethal consequences but will help the Ukrainian people survive. It may become necessary for the American government to send light arms to the Ukrainian army due to its lack of equipment but only if this crisis continues, which I unfortunately foresee. That would come if no progress in quelling the violence occurs by the end of May.

This is the time for the US to take real action in Ukraine. No boots on the ground, but continue to hold military exercises in Poland, as well as reinstate anti-missile systems in Poland and to supply non-lethal aid to Ukraine. We must end this now, before Putin’s dream of a Eurasian Union comes upon us.

Ukrainian Crisis: The Reason Why Putin Calling Eastern Ukraine “Novorossiya” Is Worrisome

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To most, hearing the term “Novorossiya” would elicit a “What?” But in the crisis currently occurring, it is yet another eerie reminder of the Soviet and Czarist Russia age coming back.

For historical background, Novorossiya, or New Russia, was the region encompassing Ukraine and some of its neighbors back when it was conquered by Catherine the Great in the 18th Century. Queen Catherine took it during the Russo-Turkish War, and it was part of Russia until the Bolsheviks granted it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1922.

In a nearly four-hour Q&A Thursday, President Vladimir Putin called this region “Novorossiya”, which was a term that had not been used to describe this region in nearly 90 years. “It’s new Russia,” he said, adding,

“Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows.”

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Some voiced worry that Putin freely using this term means that he is embracing the idea of the Eurasian Union as an actual reinstatement of the Soviet Union, as I have been warning for over 2 months now. This includes the Polish Defense Minister, and other officials in NATO and the UN.

Yet, Putin seriously believes that what he is doing is best for Russia. At one time we were promised,” Putin said, “that after Germany’s unification, NATO wouldn’t spread eastward.”

He continued:

“Our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this. Needless to say, first and foremost we wanted to support the residents of Crimea. But we also followed certain logic: if we don’t do anything, Ukraine will be drawn into NATO sometime in the future. We’ll be told, ‘This doesn’t concern you’ and NATO ships will dock in Sevastopol, the city of Russia’s naval glory.”

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As I have stressed many times before, we need to reinstate anti-missile defense systems in Poland right now. No questions asked, I call on NATO, President Obama, and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to do this immediately. I am talking about the European Intercepter System, which, if Russia feels so inclined to escalate its Eurasian Union goal to take over Poland, will defend our greatest ally in East Europe. For right now, though, they would act as a deterrent to Putin and the Russian Government.

I could of sworn we ended this war yesterday.