On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that Moscow has been paying Russian supporters inside Ukraine to cause trouble so that Putin can justify invading the neighboring country even further. Kerry has also threatened further economic sanctions if Putin and co refuse to back down. This news comes on the heels of 70 protesters setting the regional government headquarters in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on fire, before being arrested.
But some pro-Russian protesters, who wish to secede from Ukraine, continue to occupy another government building in Donetsk. Even though Ukraine's government says they will arrest any secessionists, Putin says any force used against them would cause a civil war.
"Quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary," Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday. "We have made it clear that Russia needs to take concrete steps to disavow separatist actions in Eastern Ukraine, pull back its forces outside the country — which they say they have begun to do with the movement of one battalion — and demonstrate that they are prepared to come to these discussions to do what is necessary to de-escalate."
It's just days before officials from Ukraine, the U.S., Russia and the European Union are scheduled to meet in an attempt to de-escalate matters in Ukraine. Kerry added that Russia's inside maneuvers are as "ham-handed as they are transparent," and says "the U.S. and our allies must not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th century behavior," according to The Wall Street Journal.
Although numerous economic sanctions have been placed on Russia since the takeover of the Crimean peninsula, which has been condmned by the international community, Kerry says further sanctions will be imposed to force Russia to back down, targeting the country's mining, banking and energy interests. Such sanctions, Kerry says, would have a huge effect on a Russian economy that really isn't that strong to begin with.
Right now, Russia still has thousands of troops ready and waiting along its Ukrainian border, while Ukraine is attempting to increase its defenses, just in case Russia does attack.
Seems like Putin is pulling some strings. Fingers crossed they can be cut before the Ukrainian crisis escalates further.