Ukrainian Troops Given The Authorization To Open Fire
Published June 9th, 2014
In the wake of the Olympics, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been taking steps to increase Russia's territory, taking back the Crimean Peninsula, which was given to Ukraine. Many of the people who live in Crimea are of Russian descent, and Putin has used this as his main reason for annexing the territory from Ukraine. He claims that he is only doing what the people there desire, citing that 97 percent of them voted to join Russia once again. Numbers like these are hard to confirm, but he is correct that he has support - as well as opposition - in the area.
The way that Putin has spun the issue is that he is really doing the people a favor, basically freeing them from Ukrainian rule, which they never wanted anyway. The Ukrainian people, on the other hand, feel like they are being robbed. They look at the annexation as an unlawful theft of part of their country.
Troops and protestors have been clashing in the area since the conflict began. It is hard to see exactly who is in the field at any given time. There are many reports of armed soldiers, who appear in many cases to be Russian, controlling roads and buildings. However, the soldiers do not have military insignia on their uniforms. Putin has said that he did not send them at all. According to him, they are simply groups of pro-Russian civilians who were already living in the area, people who are fighting for their own freedom.
The Ukrainian people maintain that these actually are Russian soldiers, and there have been clashes with protestors. This works both ways, though, as Ukrainian troops have also been involved in the fighting. At least one person of rank has been killed.
One of the most recent and troubling developments is that the authorization to fire has been given to Ukrainian troops. Before, they were mobilized, but they were not actively fighting back against the invading forces. Since there have been deaths, though, it is impossible to keep from allowing the soldiers to defend themselves if they need to do so. They now have that official permission.
Of course, this is a slippery slope. Where does one draw the line between defense and aggression? If the shooting begins, is it going to turn into a full-scale war in the region? There is a chance that Ukraine, which has been looking to the west for help, could end up fighting Russia, a much larger country, in open war. If that happens, dominos could begin to fall, drawing other countries in.
Some speculation indicates that Russia may be after more than just the Crimea. If Putin really wants to extend his territory, he could use this as the ideal opportunity to do so. That is the type of maneuver that would likely turn the conflict from a skirmish over a select territory to an all-out war. Much of it depends on what Putin thinks the rest of the world will do to stop him.