By Mintimer Avila |Online Editor|
Pro-Russian activists in Ukraine have seized various government buildings throughout the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Russia responded to the situation by placing an estimated 40,000 Russian troops near the border of Ukraine.
A recent international deal in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine and the western powers was established on April 17 to address this issue but rising tension has caused Washington and its allies to prepare more sanctions against Russia if they fail to take control of the situation.
“We expect and we will be watching whether Russia does or does not uphold its responsibility to use its very considerable influence to restrain and withdraw those irregular militia from the buildings and spaces that they’ve occupied,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Pro-Russian rebels so far have refused to give up any control of several towns that have been seized over the past two weeks, according to South China Morning Post.
If the agreement collapses, the United States said that it will ultimately impose two rounds of sanctions, including some against the Russian president’s inner circle, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said, “You can’t treat Russia like a guilty schoolboy who has to put a cross on a piece of paper to show he has done his homework.”
Ukraine’s President, Oleksandr Turchynov, has called on law enforcement agencies to renew anti-terror measures after two tortured bodies were discovered near the city of Slaviansk, one of which belonged to Vladimir Rybak, a member of the local parliament, according to CNN.
“The terrorists who basically have taken the entire Donetsk region hostage have crossed the line with torturing and killing Ukrainian patriots,” said Turchynov.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who has promised support for the Ukraine, said, “No nation has the right to simply grab land from another nation. We will never recognize Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea.”
Some officials believe that Russian special forces might be connected with the rebels and that this is an attempt to promote unrest and invade further.
Moscow denies these claims as Putin asserted that the troops in unmarked uniforms were part of a local self-defense group and not Russian Special Forces, according to The Washington Post.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergio Lavrov, believes the U.S. is actually responsible for the uprising in Ukraine and argues that an attack on the Russian citizens is an attack on the Russian Federation.
In response to the Russian troops near the border, the U.S. has begun to deploy 600 paratroopers near the area to boost the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO’s) defenses in eastern European states that border the Ukraine.
It was reported by CNN that tensions escalated quickly on April 24 after Ukrain forces reportedly killed five pro-Russian militants.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shigou said that Russian forces would be conducting military drills near the border as a response to these actions.