Pro-Russian forces expand presence in Ukraine, US prepared to impose more sanctions
By End the Lie
As pro-Russian activists and militias expand their presence across eastern Ukraine, in some cases violently, the U.S. says they’re ready to impose more sanctions on Russia.
Read our latest: “NATO: satellite images show Russian military buildup on Ukraine border, Russia denies” and “Tensions raised significantly as pro-Russian demonstrators face off with Ukrainian police”
Pro-Russian militants have ignored a deadline set by the Ukrainian government, leading to a call for United Nations peacekeepers by Ukraine’s acting president.
President Oleksandr Turchynov said that he would welcome U.N. peacekeepers to help establish order in eastern Ukraine by working with Ukrainian forces to carry out “joint counterterrorist operation,” according to a statement on his official website.
The statement says that Turchynov spoke to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the matter and accused Russia of deploying “special units” to eastern Ukraine.
These units were sent to “conduct armed seizure of the administrative buildings and threaten lives of hundreds of thousands of our citizens,” according to Turchynov.
Turchynov said that Russia is in the process of repeating their actions in Crimea last month.
Yet the situation is different in eastern Ukraine, according to Turchynov, “because the majority of people do not want to support separatists.”
Ban pledged to “do everything I can for the situation to be resolved peacefully as soon as possible,” according to the statement.
Any deployment of U.N. peacekeeping forces would require approval of the Security Council, where Russia holds veto power, making it unlikely that any deployment will happen soon.
Pro-Russian protesters took over a Ukrainian police headquarters on Monday and confronted police and raised a Russian flag over the building, according to CNN.
This comes on the same day that the Ukrainian government demanded pro-Russian activists to give up.
“Instead, they appear to have overrun another key building in yet another eastern Ukrainian city,” CNN notes.
Protesters have held control of the regional government building in the eastern city of Donetsk for over a week as of Monday.
The city of Horlivka in eastern Ukraine is at least the 10th city or town in the region in which activists have taken control of government buildings.
Instead of enforcing the previously announced ultimatum, Turchynov “reiterated offers of concessions to grant more local autonomy in the east, on a day of wavering between the limited military and political options available to the new and still wobbly government in Kiev,” The New York Times reports.
Meanwhile, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said that the United States is ready to impose more sanctions on Russia, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
This statement came as Lew signed a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), is also negotiating as much as $18 billion in loans to Ukraine over just two years.
“Working with our allies, we are fully prepared to impose additional significant sanctions on Russia as it continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine, including apparently through support to a concerted campaign by armed militants in eastern Ukraine,” Lew said.
It remains to be seen if the current Ukrainian government will carry out a military operation against the rebels in eastern Ukraine. If they do, it will likely have to be without U.N. peacekeepers, given the Russian veto power in the Security Council.
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