Pres. Donald J. Trump was critical of the certain alliances, saying that a small, aggressive country such as Montenegro could spark World War III. It seems fundamentally unfair that American sons and daughters should risk their lives due to internal European conflicts. But growing tensions between the Ukraine and Russia could very well draw the U.S. into another bloody global confrontation.
Russia recently seized a pair of Ukrainian naval vessels that were conducting counterintelligence operations. The ships were reportedly crewed by Ukrainian spy operatives who entered Russian waters. In all, 24 sailors were taken into custody, and 12 were presented in a Crimea court on formal charges.
Crimea has been an international sore point as Russia effectively annexed the province while NATO allies and ex-Pres. Obama failed to defend it in 2014. Ukraine had scrapped its application to NATO in 2010 because the country was divided over its allegiance to Russia.
Ukraine broke away from the former Soviet Union in 1991, but a large population has closer ties with Russia than the current state. The long-standing bond is primarily based on a common form of Orthodox Christianity grounded in Russia. Many Ukrainians also personally identify with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin, who practiced the Orthodox brand of Christianity in secret under the atheist Soviet regime. With a portion of the population yearning to be reunited with the Russian people and church, tensions have never stopped simmering.
In 2014, pro-Russian factions clashed with Ukrainian nationals in what has been called the War in Donbass. The result was an invasion by masked Russia soldiers who seized the Crimea region and evicted Ukraine forces. Despite the creation of a Russian-aligned Republic of Crimea, tensions continue to boil in the region. A large faction of separatists has continued to work through political channels with the goal of realigning Ukraine with Russia. Following the seizure of the two spy vessels, Ukrainian Pres. Petro Poroshenko has imposed martial law and rattled his nation’s sword.
“Intelligence data speak of an extremely serious threat,” Pres. Poroshenko reportedly said, claiming Russia forces were gathering near the border. “Ukraine is facing a threat of a full-scale war with the Russian Federation.”
This marks the first-ever imposition of martial law in Ukraine, and it has effectively ramped up emotions on both sides.
According to reports, members of the NATO alliance strongly advised against imposing martial law as it could result in the countries taking another step toward war. Critics in the region have gone on the record saying that the move was made so that Pres. Poroshenko could usurp and retain power over pro-Russia residents.
Putin, well known as a Russian strongman, has let it be known through international channels that the move served to ramp up hostilities.
“The imposition of martial law in some regions may pose a risk of escalating tensions in the conflict-hit region, namely the southeast,” Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly said.
In the U.S., the Trump Administration continues to monitor the situation. Some reports have indicated that the Ukrainian naval vessel had strayed into Russia waters. That point continues to be disputed by Ukraine officials. However, officials such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo see the stand-off as a potential spark that could quickly light the fire of all-out war.
“The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action. We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,” Pompeo said. “Reports that Russian vessels rammed and fired on the Ukrainian ships, injuring Ukrainian crewmen, before seizing three vessels, represent a dangerous escalation and a violation of international law.”
While Pres. Trump has also denounced the incident, it remains to be seen if the U.S. and NATO countries would intercede should the crisis escalate. Keep in mind that Obama failed to lift a finger while Russia troops stormed Crimea.
Although Pres. Trump has advocated an America First policy that seems to indicate U.S. soldiers would not put their boots on the ground in a foreign war between other countries, Russia has been a long-standing adversary. Unless Russia-Ukraine hostilities cease, it is likely the U.S. will be drawn into another horrific European fight.
~ Conservative Zone