Tuesday, March 4, 2014

United States preps aid package for Ukraine while Putin makes war declaration

The Obama Administration recently announced plans to isolate Russia economically after President Vladimir Putin declared his right to invade neighboring Ukraine in Moscow's biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said in a Reuters article that Putin's remarks signal more than just a threat. Yatseniuk leads a pro-Western government that took power in the former Soviet republic when its Moscow-backed president, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted last week, Reuters reported.

Putin on Saturday got permission from his parliament to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine and told U.S. President Barack Obama he had the right to defend Russian interests and nationals, ignoring Western pleas not to intervene. Russian forces have already seized Crimea, an isolated Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base. This was done without fatalities.

The United States is focused on economic, diplomatic and political measures without taking serious military action. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit Kiev today to show support for Ukrainian sovereignty. The US has prepared a $1 billion aid package for Ukraine to support energy efforts while readying economic sanctions on Russia. Members of Congress have told news outlets that they are preparing legislation that would impose sanctions on Russia as well.

In light of this, Putin has removed his forces from the Ukrainian border, accusing the West of encouraging an "un-constitutional coup" in Ukraine and declaring sanctions against his country will backfire. The White House said the $1 billion loan aimed at helping shield Ukraine from reductions in energy subsidies. Russia provides a substantial portion of Ukraine's natural gas.

U.S. officials said Washington is watching to see whether if Russia will advance beyond Crimea. Conservative legislators are ready for the president to take action, and protests and clashes between Russian and Ukrainian supporters rage on.

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