News / Europe

Russia-Ukraine Window of Opportunity for War or Peace

FILE - In this March 5, 2014 file photo, pro-Russia demonstrators holding a Russian flag, with the Ukrainian emblem in the background, stand on the balcony of the regional administrative building after storming it in Donetsk, Ukraine
FILE - In this March 5, 2014 file photo, pro-Russia demonstrators holding a Russian flag, with the Ukrainian emblem in the background, stand on the balcony of the regional administrative building after storming it in Donetsk, Ukraine
Michael Eckels
Pro-Russian activists have seized state security buildings in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk and are calling for a referendum on autonomy. In response, Ukraine's parliament is demanding harsh punishment for separatists and analysts are saying the Ukraine crisis is now in a dangerous new phase.  

Holed up in a regional administrative building in Donetsk, the several hundred activists calling themselves the “People’s Council” are demanding the right to separate from Ukraine and calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin for help.

Pro-Russian demonstrators also stormed government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Luhansk and Kharkiv.

Defense analyst Pavel Felgenhauer of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper said there could be a full-fledged Russian military incursion into the three eastern Ukrainian cities.

“The real factor is the battle readiness of the troops that are designated there. And battle readiness seems to be right now at its highest," he said.

However, that battle readiness can’t be sustained indefinitely, Felgenhauer said, meaning that Russia has a window of opportunity to invade eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament will push through anti-separatist legislation.

“So it’s either now or never. Not maybe never, but at least the same level of battle readiness we have right now will be maybe again reached somewhere in August.”

Felgenhauer said the current window runs from now until mid-May, at which time Russian troops deployed near Ukraine should be rotated out. This also means Ukrainian authorities in Kyiv have the same small window to take measures of their own. But what can they do?

Mark Galeotti, a security expert and professor at New York University, said it is within Ukraine’s abilities to use force to remove the pro-Russia activists from the buildings they have seized.

“Kyiv needs to show that it has strength and determination. If it doesn’t, it will embolden the protesters all the more," said Galeotti.

Ukraine's former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, is reportedly heading to Donetsk to help defuse the situation there. According to Galeotti, in dealing with the pro-Russian protests, the Ukrainian government must perform a difficult balancing act between being heavy handed which he says would just make things worse and looking weak.  "it's a difficult balance to strike," he said.  

For now, no shots have been fired. Some observers say that if Russia and Ukraine can stave off bloodshed through the May 25 presidential election, and the coming summer heat, then the impending winter will keep Russian forces on their side of the border.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid