Despite the fact that the media has taken its eyes off of the crisis in Ukraine, the situation actually continues to worsen. During the end of my last show of this past May, I made the prediction that by the time I returned on the air Ukraine would either be in a full civil war or Russia would launch a full invasion, or perhaps both. Since then we have seen a successful Presidential election, with Petro Poroshenko beating out a field of other candidates. We have also seen Russia pull back some of their troops from the border and attempt to hold peace talks with the Ukrainians and the United Nations, along with President Poroshenko calling for a cease fire within the nation. From the standpoint of the rest of the world, it looked like things were improving in Ukraine, looks can be deceiving.
The United Nations is now estimating that at least 356 people have been killed in Ukraine since May 7(just after my last show). The worst attack came late last week when a Ukrainian military transport plane was shot down in the Eastern region, killing all 49 soldiers and crew members on board. Early reports indicated the weapons used were supplied by the Russians. Although Russia had pulled back some troops, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is now claiming that those troops are returning to the Ukraine-Russia border, fueling the growing fire. I stand by what I said before, Ukraine will get worse before it gets better, and here is why:
A. Vladimir Putin– I have spoken many times about the impact Russian President Vladimir Putin has had on the world stage. Putin, an ex KGB officer, has been in charge of Russia since 2000, getting around the successive term limits by switching positions with his figurehead, Dimitry Medvedev. Putin proved in 2008 that he wasn’t afraid to use instability as an excuse to invade former Soviet territory, using issues in Georgia to send Russian troops in. Putin’s largest problem was the press, as constant media coverage eventually led to Putin pulling back most of his troops. Although in the end, some troops remained secretly and promoted more instability, with a few of the northern regions of Georgia essentially falling to Russian control. Former members of the Bush administration have come out and said they should have done more when Putin invaded Georgia, but they didn’t.
To explain the comparison between Putin and President Barack Obama would take an entire article, but that is another reason why Ukraine is still falling apart today. They are two completely different leaders; their two biggest differences are experience and confidence. Putin spent time in the KGB during the Cold War, giving him valuable experience with who knows what. While Obama was a Constitutional law professor. Putin is a man with a plan for his country and how to make Russia great again, while Barack Obama has no idea what to do, and looks foolish on the international stage. During negotiations, Putin has outsmarted Obama, and Obama has no idea.
B. Geography– Unfortunately for Ukraine, not only are they a former Soviet state, they are also right next to Russia who is attempting to look strong on the world stage again. Other smaller countries around Russia also fear that Russia could make a play for them as well, just as Russia did with Crimea. Ukraine has a lot of land that Russia wants, and if the fighting takes a wrong turn, Russia could exploit that. All that separates these two countries is a border, and with pro-Russian fighters controlling many parts of the east and then fighting pro-Government fighters in other spots, even the border hasn’t stopped Russia so far. If Putin can find another way to exploit Ukraine besides aid to the pro-Russian fighters, he will.
C. Strength and Unity– Ukraine is not united, simple as that. It’s not just that the Russians are sending in fighters and weapons to aid the Ukrainian pro-Russians, many of the citizens are behind Russia as well. Although many believe that the vote for Crimea to join Russia was rigged, with 96 percent of people voting in favor of leaving Ukraine and joining Russia, a majority of citizens in the east are against the Ukrainian government. To these pro-Russian fighters, they are fighting for their homeland, and the government forces are the invaders. Meanwhile Ukraine as a whole is not united, and if Russia were to actually put more troops on the ground, Ukraine would not be able to stand up to the Russian strength due to their lack of unity.
D. Poroshenko means well, but came in at the wrong time- When Poroshenko took his oath to become the President of Ukraine; his goal was to stop the fighting. He has announced he is attempting to create a ceasefire, but talks for a ceasefire have been slow since the fighting started at the beginning of the year. I believe Poroshenko will try to unite the country and stop the fighting, but I don’t think he will succeed. The fighting started before he came into power, and there isn’t much he can do. If the people of Eastern Ukraine wish to keep fighting, they will, if they wish to break off from Ukraine, they will. If peace talks do prevail, they won’t be without cost to the country as a whole. Ukraine will likely lose more territory as the east separates from the west, and there isn’t much the Ukrainians can do about it.
The best thing the world can do is monitor the situation and hope it stays within Ukraine. The United States and NATO have placed sanctions on Russia, but they don’t seem to scare Putin off too much. For now we will see what the next week brings, but right now it looks like the fighting will continue for quite some time.