Ukraine Crisis Deepens
Ukraine Crisis which stepped up after the Russian occupation of Crimea in April has seen no way back. Approximately 2600 civilians have lost their lives in the fighting that continues between the rebels and Ukrainian forces. Russia has always placed the blame on Ukraine for crisis pointing to its siege of rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Russians have also been accused by Ukraine of giving military and monetary aid to the rebels. In some recently released satellite pictures, Ukraine has shown the world the illicit presence and build-up of Russian artillery inside the Ukraine territory. The NATO and the European countries have asked for a serious view of the situation by Russia or face tougher sanctions by European leaders. Russian energy minister has warned of no-gas supplies to Europe coming winter in case of any further sanctions.
Ukraine has also stemmed-up its efforts to join NATO and has already filed an application for the same. Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk has expressed his intention to shun Ukraine’s ‘non-bloc’ status, a desired pre-requisite to join NATO to speeden its integration as a member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, ahead of latter’s summit in Wales next week. This if approved will redraw many geopolitical strategies and maps in the region. The ‘non-bloc’ status is however going to be hard for Ukraine as it has to go through a clear parliamentary process or through the courts. This may take time, which Ukraine does not afford as situation gets more tense.
NATO is taking serious note of the situation. The fighting continues unabated in strategic port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea. Ukraine has raised fears that Russia is trying to carve a land-corridor to Crimea. The fighters are also causing serious human abuses by deliberately targeting civilians. Many people have fled the region to different parts of Ukraine while many others have fled to Russia.
The new dimension to the crisis is also spelt by Putin’s recent abandoning of a toned-down response to an open pat on the shoulders of rebels as he publically praised their efforts to sustain the war and congratulated them in intercepting Kiev’s military operation. Putin also asserted a hard-line stance that Kiev should be compelled to reach a point of regional autonomy. Experts view this as a part of a larger strategy of the Russia to weaken the central government in Kiev which will rule out its possibility of joining NATO. In addition, the message will also further boost the morale of the rebels to keep holding ground, espceciallu when they are more vulnerable to the advancing Ukrainian forces.