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    Neighboring Nations Wary as Crimea Occupied by Pro-Russian Forces

    Neighboring Nations Wary as Ukraine's Crimea Remains Occupied by Pro-Russian Forcesi
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    Arash Arabasadi
    March 10, 2014 7:44 PM
    As the buildup of pro-Russian forces in the Crimea region of Ukraine continues, officials in Kyiv say that as many as 18,000 occupiers are in the region. The tense standoff is reminiscent of the 2008 conflict with Georgia, and VOA's Arash Arabasadi reports other neighbors are taking notice.
    Neighboring Nations Wary as Ukraine's Crimea Occupied by Pro-Russian Forces
    As the buildup of pro-Russian forces in the Crimea region of Ukraine continues, officials in Ukrainian capital Kyiv say that as many as 18,000 occupiers are in the region. The increasingly tense standoff in some ways is reminiscent of the 2008 conflict with Georgia, and other neighbors undoubtedly are taking notice.

    The Ukrainian military released footage Sunday of its paratroopers returning from training. It is another escalation in an already tense Ukraine.
     
    James Jeffrey, a former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute, said it’s time for the United States to send ground troops to the Polish-Ukrainian border to conduct military exercises.

    "Ground troops to symbolize our willingness to defend our now nervous NATO allies in Eastern Europe,” he said. NATO allies like Poland.

    Regional threat

    Ryszard Schnepf, Poland’s ambassador to the United States, said pro-Russian aggression in Crimea threatens the entire region. “We consider the current situation [in Ukraine] as a direct threat to our sovereignty, and we can predict that after the situation from the Kremlin’s point of view is cleared, Moldova will be the next target, and possibly, other countries.”  

    Other countries, like Georgia. In 2008, the former Soviet republic was caught in a standoff with Russian forces over the disputed regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia claims them both; Russia considers them independent states. Russian troops are still there.

    Archil Gegeshidze, Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, said a lack of American action in 2008 set a precedent for the conflict in Ukraine. “Those events ... gave lessons to the major stakeholders in this case; in Ukraine’s case. What Russia learned from Georgia’s case is Russia can get away with its 19th Century methods because Russia was not forced to pay a political price for that.”

    Gegeshidze said that despite an ongoing occupation, the government in Ukraine should tread lightly. “What the Ukrainian government needs now is to really show restraint; not to provoke Russia on heavier retaliation,” he said.

    The Ukrainian army is a fighting force of roughly 130,000 troops -- no match for Russian forces. And with citizen demonstrations still dividing the country, Ukraine and its neighbors may have reason to worry.

    Arash Arabasadi

    Arash Arabasadi is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a decade of experience shooting, producing, writing and editing. He has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Ukraine, as well as domestically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Arash has also been a guest lecturer at Howard University, Hampton University, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ashley and their two dogs.

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    Comments
         
    by: Leroy Padmore from: Jersey City
    March 11, 2014 1:08 AM
    One thing I have to say is this, The Ukrainian Army should not under estimate themselves. The ability of a weapon, depends on the user of the weapon. If they will have to fight, let them fight until the last soldier of the Ukrainian Army die. Never give up hope, despite what is ahead of you. The Ukrainian Army needs to encourage themselves, and never let Russia see their weakness. Confidence matters a lot. and beside that nuclear weapon that Russia has, Russia ain't nothing. Mr. Putin is modern day Goliath, and Goliath must come down. This Goliath took over Georgia, and up todays date , Russia presence is in Georgia, and nobody did nothing. This Goliath needs to be stop.

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