Multiple local media outlets in Ukraine are reporting the much anticipated “anti-terrorist” operations in the Eastern Ukraine town of Kramatorsk have failed.
Tuesday, Interim President Turchynov warned pro-Russian forces in the east they had until 9 a.m. local time to lay down their arms or be met with a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation.”
The operation ended in total disaster, with six armored personnel carriers (APCs) captured by the pro-Russian forces in the East. At this time, it is unclear how exactly the APCs were apprehended. Some sources suspect it was the result of successful covert Kremlin-backed efforts, while others place blame on the lack of a cohesive strategy and a failure of leadership coming from authorities in Kiev. RT, the media influence arm of the Kremlin, is reporting the APCs were surrendered by soldiers who voluntarily defected from the Ukraine Army. Pictures and videos surfaced displaying the soldiers replacing the Ukrainian flag on the APCs with Russia’s.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that it “essentially puts the nation on the brink of civil war.” Some warn Putin’s comments should be met with alarm, as he has often mentioned the need to “protect” ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine.
The Russian threat from the east has encouraged two major political parties in Ukraine’s parliament to introduce a bill suggesting the country disembark from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This measure, if signed into law, would effectively put Ukraine on a rapid ascent towards possessing nuclear weapons.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen said defensive aircraft and warship deployments over the Baltic region will occur much more frequently now that tensions have hit an all-time high. He also hinted at the idea that NATO ground forces may be involved in the near future, but did not give specifics. NATO estimates suggest some 40,000 Russian troops have massed on their border with Ukraine. NATO has officially suspended any cooperative efforts with the Russian government.
Poland, Ukraine’s neighbor to the northwest, is becoming increasingly worried that they too could become a victim of Russian aggression. The Polish Defense Minister is scheduled to meet with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to discuss ways to strengthen the Polish-American-NATO alliance to act as a deterrent to Russian encroachment.
The Obama administration is said to be working on a “non-lethal” aid package to Ukraine, one that includes medical aid and clothing supplies. Beforehand, the only assistance coming from the United States came in the form of ready-to-eat meals.