Ukraine’s fragile interim government may find little hope in getting the tens of billions of dollars the nation needs from the European Union and United States to pull itself out of default and repair its wounds after the bloodshed that led to the ouster of its president this week, defense analysts and U.S. officials told TheBlaze.
Meanwhile, in the wake of Ukraine’s massive unrest, Russia has deployed two armored personnel carriers near Russian military installations in Ukraine’s second port of Sebastopol in the Crimea peninsula, bolstering concerns among Ukrainian citizens that Russia is acting subversively to split the nation of roughly 46 million people.
The warning was echoed Tuesday by Ukraine’s new interim President Olexander Turchynov, who said infighting among Ukrainians could push the nation closer to that division.
Steven Bucci, former assistant secretary of defense under Donald Rumsfeld, told TheBlaze the situation is too tenuous for Ukraine not to receive the financial support it needs and there is continuing concern among regional experts that Russia will become more emboldened if Ukraine seeks to develop stronger ties with the West. Currently the Ukrainian government is looking to obtain a $35 billion loan, news reports from the region state.
“I am confident they will get verbal support – lots from the European Union, probably a bit from the U.S.,” Bucci said. “They will get very little economic support, which is what they need.”
Bucci said indications are that the [European Union] may have already sent them that sad message,”one hates to think that those people died and now we won’t help.”
He noted that division among Ukrainian lawmakers and failure to come to an agreement on Tuesday, which delayed the naming of acting prime minister and provisional government until Thursday, is also playing into Russian hands. In November, unrest exploded in Ukraine after now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych failed to sign an economic agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Russia. He accepted a $15 billion loan from Moscow, which is now on hold. The opposition protests have been ongoing and took a bloody turn this past week when protestors called for the removal of Yanukovych, who fled and is now in hiding. Snipers and other government riot police have been accused of beating protestors and more than 70 people were killed over the past week and the nation’s interim government is still fragile.
A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the nature of their work, said the U.S. is closely monitoring the situation and told TheBlaze that “Moscow – which views this crisis in Cold War terms – is determined to keep Ukraine within its sphere of influence.”
The acting Ukrainian government has requested financial aid from the West, in particular, from the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, according to the Associated Press. Interim Finance Minister Yuri Kolobov, who represents pro-Western factions, said he spoke to ambassadors from the both the United States and Europe requesting urgent aide, which European news outlets report is roughly $35 billion.
According to French news agency Agence France-Presse, the two armored personnel carriers have been deployed near Russian military installations in Ukraine’s second port of Sebastopol. AFP reported that hundreds of protesters rallied in the Crimean Peninsula city and one of the vehicles was visible on a base belonging to Russia’s Black Sea fleet. The other was parked in the courtyard of a building rented by the Russian navy in the city center.
As Ukraine’s new interim leader warned of “dangerous signs of separatism,” Moscow began the movement of its fleet to Ukraine’s ports.
Western countries have warned the Kremlin not to interfere with Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov toned down strident rhetoric from Moscow on Tuesday by saying it was sticking to a policy of “non-interference”.
A spokesman for the fleet in Sevastopol questioned by AFP did not comment on the deployment of the vehicles. However, local media reported that they had been sent out in case of “terrorist attacks.”
The unfolding scenario was predicted by Ukrainian Catholic Church Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk in an exclusive interview with TheBlaze a week before the bloodshed. The patriarch, whose church membership is roughly 5 million, said that without the financial backing from the West, Russia would a gain significant power base in Ukraine. He said that the EU and the U.S. need to help Ukraine mitigate the pressure of Russia’s influence in their nation’s political affairs.
“Ukraine is a sovereign country and it can decide for itself if it wants to be a part of European Union or anything else,” Shevchuk said. “Just like Latvia and Poland have made the decisions for themselves as well. Russian officials have been using rhetoric for awhile but we do not fear them and we proved that with what happened on the Maidan.”
More alarming is concern that Ukrainian’s 15 nuclear utility power plants, along with possible information on their operations and military, are no longer safe after the dissolution of the government and fractured security apparatus, Mykola Zhuravel, an active protest leader during the unrest, told TheBlaze.
Bucci said there is reason to be concerned, but noted that EU officials were effectively looking into the security surrounding the nuclear power plants.
Zhuravel warned that if Americans do not stand by the side of the Ukrainian people, Russia may again rebuild its empire and present an even greater threat to western nations than it had in the past. He said the people who “died on the Maidan [Kiev's Independence Square] did so fighting for freedom and the same principals America stands for.”
Zhuravel described the past week, in which he said he saw government snipers shooting at unarmed civilians, as horror. He said now, he and many others Ukrainians are bringing flowers to the square to honor the dead and he described the dead as the “Heavenly Centuria,” meaning the heavenly hundred, who gave their lives defending the country.
One of the most prominent figures in the opposition, former heavyweight boxing champion, Vitali Klitschko, has confirmed that he will be a candidate in elections scheduled for May 25.
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