On Tuesday, the stakes escalated when Ukrainian officials sent troops into the eastern part of the nation to reclaim a military base from pro-Russian separatists. Officials in Kiev described the retaking of the airfield as a “special operation.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin again proved he has no sense of irony — or, more likely, he simply loves to stir the pot more — when he called U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday and demanded that the United Nations and the international community condemn what he described as “anti-constitutional actions” by the government in Kiev.
This demand from the man who sent Russian troops without insignia into sovereign Ukrainian territory to slice off the Crimea region by force so that Russian could orchestrate a vote that was decided long before anyone went to a ballot box and annex the region, all of which was done in clear violation of international law.
The burr in Putin’s saddle was the February ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich by Ukrainians who want stronger ties with the West. Fueled by hardliners in Russia who long for the so-called glory days of the Soviet Union, Putin has gotten bolder and more boisterous seemingly by the day.
The fact is, the government change in Kiev was made by Ukrainians who want a different, more productive direction for their country, which is mired in debt to Russia. The fear is that Putin will continue to ignore the nation’s right to sovereignty and reclaim it, piece by piece.
The famed Russian propaganda machine has been churning away, claiming crimes against ethnic Russians in Ukraine. It doesn’t take a genius to see that Putin is attempting to lay groundwork, as he did in Crimea, for a deeper incursion.
While the White House said Tuesday that Kiev’s security action in eastern Ukraine was warranted, it added that only sanctions were being considered against Russia. There are no plans to provide arms to Ukraine, and Western governments won’t look at ratcheting up sanctions until Thursday.
Diplomacy, of course, is still the best avenue to proceed on.