Peace Seems a Faraway Dream in Crimea
by Leo Wiltshire
As it stands now, more than 5,600 people have died due to the conflict in Ukraine, and over a million people have left their homes (CBC). A ceasefire was agreed upon by Ukrainian officials and separatists. Putin urged the rebels to sign the ceasefire deal, which forbade heavy artillery from being used on the battlefield and would be overseen by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (The Guardian). On the day of the peace talks, Ukrainian soldiers expressed doubt that the ceasefire deal would truly be meaningful. Many were wary that despite the ceasefire taking effect at 12:00 PM on Valentine’s Day, Ukrainian rebels would continue their assault in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian soldiers were right to be worried.
According to a US official, the Ukrainian rebels have violated the ceasefire deal more than 250 times (English Aljazeera). The Rebels have now captured Debaltseve, a city located in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian officials claim that 13 soldiers were killed, 157 are wounded, 90 are now prisoners, and 82 have gone missing (CBC). The Ukrainian soldiers who escaped the conflict in Debaltseve claim there were more soldiers killed (CBC). Pro-Russian rebels would fire at the Ukrainian soldiers during the night to make sure they didn’t get enough sleep. This was followed by waves upon waves of attacks in the morning (CBC).
Berlin and Washington have stated that they are unified on the current crisis in Ukraine. Both are confident that diplomacy is the best way to solve the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has implemented sanctions against Russia in reaction to the conflict. “In my view, it’s right that we’ve continued to raise the cost [of Russia’s actions]. I stand by this path 100%,” said Merkel during a diplomatic tour in Washington to meet with US President Barack Obama (Deutsche Welle). Barack Obama had this to say during the discussion, “There is no doubt that if diplomacy fails this week, there will be a strong, unified response from the US and Europe” (Deutsche Welle). Russia still affirms that they are not aiding Ukrainian rebels. President Vladimir Putin insists that sanctions from the United States and the European Union would not result in “catastrophic consequences” for the Russian economy (Reuters). With the situation in Ukraine worsening, some have suggested that the US should supply military grade weaponry to Ukrainian soldiers in order to fight Pro-Russian rebels. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter agree that Ukrainian soldiers must be given light military weapons in order to fend off the rebels (Reuters). Critics have argued that if the US provides “offensive weapons” to Ukrainian soldiers, Russia will increase support to Ukrainian rebels. Some have even speculated that this tactic could be a gateway to World War Three (Reuters). Obama has been hesitant on a firm position (English Aljazeera).
Diplomacy has been a key factor in solving the Ukrainian crisis. Sanctions have been used in order to discourage further escalation. Despite this, the conflict continues, and relations between The United States and Russia have worsened.