Anytime Russia and Ukraine clash, it’s cause for concern. The potential for a small skirmish to spiral into something larger is very real.
The bigger danger arises if allies get involved. And that’s where every citizen has the responsibility to read between the lines before supporting any kind of unwarranted escalations.
As an Australian, the first thing you need to ask yourself in these situations is where you’re getting your information from.
Listen carefully for biased reporting
Russia has long been the enemy of the West. And Ukraine is now closely allied with the EU and NATO. The potential for biased reporting — both from Western government officials briefing the media and from the media themselves — is consequently high.
So it pays to listen carefully to both sides of the story playing out between Ukraine and Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, for example, has accused Ukraine’s president of orchestrating a new and potentially dangerous crisis.
This week, as RAW reports, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy vessels and their crew members near Crimea. This region was annexed from Ukraine back to Russia in 2014. This recent seize came from Russia claiming the vessels illegally entered Russian waters.
But as we’ve already said, there are two sides to every story. As such, Ukraine has naturally denied such an offense.
Thus begins yet another conflict between these two countries — an occurrence which tends to always spark fear in the West.
Even Trump is staying clear of Russia and Ukraine’s clash
Even US President Donald Trump — who in the past has had the guts to face Putin and discuss the good of the world — wants to stay well clear of this fight. Word on the street says Trump wants to cancel his scheduled meeting with Putin at the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina.
Trump voiced his distaste for Russia’s hasty reaction to the Ukrainian vessels, saying to reporters ‘I don’t like that aggression’.
But it isn’t a conflict if there’s no counteracting blow.
A few of Ukraine’s Western Allies are considering new sanctions to impose on Russia in retaliation. If these come to fruition, it will mean a massive hit to Russia’s economy.
And yet, Putin is confident in his country’s reaction to the Ukrainian vessels. In his first public comment made on Wednesday in Moscow about the incident, Putin not only insisted the vessels had wrongly entered, but also claimed the incident was Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s attempt at boosting his dire ratings:
‘It was without doubt a provocation…It was organised by the president ahead of the elections. The president is in fifth place ratings-wise and therefore had to do something. It was used as a pretext to introduce martial law.’
Talk about a comeback!
And it’s not just Poroshenko that Putin had words for.
Opinions left, right and centre
Despite Trump’s disapproval, Putin still wishes to meet with him at the G20 summit.
And it looks like Trump’s words were somewhat of an empty threat, for the Kremlin believe the meeting is still being prepared and Moscow are yet to be informed by Washington that it has indeed been called off.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is disappointed by Trump’s quick drawback from Putin. He believes it shows Washington’s willingness to only further encourage Ukraine’s ‘provocation’.
Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, has introduced martial law in parts of the country in preparation for a feared Russian invasion.
Poroshenko has accused Moscow of naked military aggression. As a result, he wants his country ready to respond to any future Russian military attacks.
A most recent sign of future turmoil came on Wednesday from a Kremlin aide, who said Putin refused to converse with Poroshenko by phone.
But there’s also physical evidence.
Russia stands by its claims
Vadim Astafyev, a spokesman for Russia’s southern military district, has been cited saying that a new battalion of advanced S-400 surface-to-air missiles would be delivered to Crimea soon and become operational by the end of the year.
While it is no doubt a long planned action, the timing speaks volumes. It looks to be a clear message to Ukraine and the West that Russia will guard its own territory and waters with whatever means necessary.
As for the vessels, a court in Crimea’s capital Simferopol on Wednesday ordered nine of the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors to be held for up to two months. Within this group are senior Ukrainian naval officers and at least one member of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency. The other 15 sailors await possible trial.
It’s certainly a slap in the face.
And no doubt they’ll slap back at some point.
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