Ukraine’s parliament approved Hr 6.7 billion ($600 million) for military defenses and called up reservists and the national guard after Crimea seceded to Russia on Sunday.
The national budget does not go over $50 billion a year, and it is even worse now since deposed president Viktor Yanukovych cleaned out Ukraine’s bank accounts. But with the threat of a Russian invasion from the south and east, the government made room to purchase weapons, boost training, and repair equipment.
Andriy Parubiy, the Batkivshchyna party member who now heads Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council, blamed overthrown President Viktor Yanukovych for doing “everything to destroy the Ukrainian army. We need to put all operating units on alert.”
Russia moved over 200,000 soldiers to Ukraine’s east border and engaged in military exercises to familiarize the soldiers with unfamiliar land. The Ukranian parliament approved interim President Oleksandr Turchynov’s resolution for a national guard of 60,000 people. After Russia moved into Crimea two weeks ago, many Ukrainians went to recruiting stations and signed up to defend Ukraine. People continued to sign up every day, including Sunday when people in Crimea voted on their referendum to secede from Ukraine.
While the residents of Crimea were voting Sunday under the barrel of Russian guns, Oleg Vorontsov was quick to answer it. Outraged by what he called a “rigged referendum” that will probably result in the peninsula becoming part of Russia, the 40-year-old approached a recruiting stand in central Kiev for Ukraine’s newly created national guard.
Vorontsov also signed up because he does not trust the West to help Ukraine.
“Sanctions against a few people? How is that going to help us against Russia?” laughed Vorontsov, owner of a small Internet cafe, who signed up to join a new force of 60,000 reservists that Kiev hopes will bolster Ukrainian defenses in the event of a full-blown war with Russia. “The Russians are taking a piece of our country, and where is the West? Europe and the United States have abandoned us.”
On Monday, President Obama and the EU announced sanctions against Russians and Crimeans responsible for violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. The EU’s list was not released, but Obama’s list does not contain anyone significant to Russia’s economy.