Politics

Russia Sending Troops to Ukraine, May Recall Ambassador From US

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World Econ Forum cc

“Putin has declared war on Ukraine,” reports newspaper Ukrainska Pravda. Despite stern warnings from the U.S. about meddling in the nation, the Russian government is taking rapid steps toward invasion and other destabilization tactics.

After Russian forces already began mobilizing within Ukraine's Crimean region, Russia's parliament today unanimously approved a request from President Vladimir Putin to send in as many as 28,000 troops. He contends that Ukraine's revolution poses a “threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation who are deployed on the territory of Ukraine.”

Crimea has a large Russian population and houses Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Earlier this week some citizens installed pro-Russian leader who wants a Russian military intervention, though others have pushed back against the idea.

The Kyiv Post writes that “despite the strong Kremlin overheated rhetoric, there is no evidence that ethnic Russians are in any danger in Ukraine more than anybody else.”

Russia's former chief economic advisor, Adrei Illarionov, argues that Putin's goal is to render Ukraine totally unstable as an independent country so that Russia may justify extending its own sphere of influence.

The parliament is also moving forward with legislation to “establishes a simplified procedure for a foreign territory to accede to the Russian Federation. The explanatory note for the bill states that it pertains to the situation in Ukraine,” according to Russian news site Interfax.ru. As part of its war, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is offering to employ members of Ukraine's notorious and now-defunct riot police, Berkut, with the promise of granting them Russian passports. Many members of the force are antagonistic toward Ukraine's new, opposition-controlled government, because it dissolved Berkut for killing civilians during protests last month. Russia is also using social networks to rally ex-military personnel to join the fight for Crimea.

At the same time, the Russian government is openly snubbing the US. The parliament “recommended that the Kremlin recall the Russian ambassador to the United States to underscore objections to remarks made by President Obama on Friday,” explains the Los Angeles Times. So far, Putin has declined the recommendation but it remains an option.

Yesterday, President Obama warned that “it would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws.” 

Read more Reason coverage of Ukraine here.