On the brink of war? The Ukraine-Russia Conflict is heating up.

April 25, 2014

April 25, 2014                                               John O’Laughlin

          A CU-Boulder geography professor who studies the politics of the post-Soviet Union, says the crisis between Russia and Ukraine is all part of a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to destabilize Ukraine in the hopes it will not have a presidential election on May 25.

          According to John O’Laughlin, Putin has made it very clear that if he can’t have Ukraine under his sphere of control then he wants it to be a neutral state without Western influence.

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On the brink of war? The Ukraine-Russia Conflict is heating up.

April 25, 2014                                               John O’Laughlin

          A CU-Boulder geography professor who studies the politics of the post-Soviet Union, says the crisis between Russia and Ukraine is all part of a plan by Russian President Vladimir Putin to destabilize Ukraine in the hopes it will not have a presidential election on May 25.

          According to John O’Laughlin, Putin has made it very clear that if he can’t have Ukraine under his sphere of control then he wants it to be a neutral state without Western influence.

CUT 1 “If the election goes off well, if the Ukrainians have an undisputed winner and if Ukraine continues its pro-Western path then Putin will have seen this as a defeat. (:13) I think what is going on in the east right now is an attempt to essentially destabilize the situation and make sure that the Ukrainian election of May 25 is not held. (:24) He wants Ukraine as a neutral state between the West and Russia if he can’t have the Ukraine as part of the Russian geopolitical block.” (:34)

           Following ramped up operations this week by Ukraine to remove pro-Russian insurgents from occupied buildings in the east, today Russia began new military exercises involving air and ground forces near its border with Ukraine, prompting the Ukrainian prime minister to declare that Moscow “wants to start World War III.”

Although he doesn’t think Russia wants to go to war, O’Laughlin is very concerned Putin wouldn’t hesitate to order troops into eastern Ukraine if he feels Russian interests there are attacked.

CUT 2 “I am actually way more pessimistic now than I was two months ago because I think if violence comes in the east and lets say the Ukrainian government tries to control these places that the protestors now control then my guess is that Russia will intervene militarily and that could be very bloody.” (:20)

            Pro-Russian protesters in the city of Donetsk have called for a referendum on independence to create a new Donetsk republic. But O’Laughlin says they would most likely lose.

CUT 3 “The protesters in Donetsk say they want a referendum on independence to set up a new Donetsk republic and break away from the Ukraine. (609) But actually in any fair referendum in Donetsk they would lose overwhelmingly because the biggest block of people in the east are ethnic Ukrainians who speak Russian. And every public opinion poll I’ve seen, and they are quit reliable, shows there is no majority support for joining Russia or for even a separate entity in eastern Ukraine.” (:28)

            If Russia did invade eastern Ukraine O’Laughlin doesn’t think the U.S. or NATO allies would have the public support for military intervention. He says most likely what would happen is they would supply the Ukrainian army with arms and equipment, similar to the U.S. supplying arms to Afghan resistance fighters during the Russian occupation of that country in the 1980s.

 

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