Putin’s troops cross into Ukraine
Russian tanks on maneuvers near the Ukrainian border. | AP

The United States, NATO, and the UN have condemned the sending of Russian troops across the border into Ukraine last night and this morning and have called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to halt his country’s military action and return to diplomacy .

Ukraine says it has mobilized its reservists and declared a 30-day state of emergency after a day that they say was marked by cyberattacks on some of their banks and government institutions.

In Russia, the government is saying it acted after requests to do so from the leaders of the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk and Lugansk. The leaders said Ukraine was carrying out aggression against civilians there while Ukraine denied any such actions on its part.

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky made an appeal to the Russian people directly to “spare my country from war. Listen to the voice of reason.”

There are reports that military installations and government control centers on the outskirts of Kiev have been hit with Russian missiles. Thus far, however, there are few reports of civilian casualties anywhere in Ukraine. MSNBC reported this morning that a Russian tank was observed in a Russian-speaking town in the east directing traffic.

Putin gave another speech Wednesday night in which he said Ukraine was fomenting “genocide” against Russians in the eastern part of the country. Some 60,000 civilians from that area have fled across the border into Russia. The region has seen eight years of war during which many thousands of Russian-speaking civilians have been killed by Ukrainian fighters.

The fear now all around the world is that the situation will spiral out of control and possibly result in casualties. While the refusal by NATO and the U.S. to even consider any of Russia’s legitimate security needs contributed to the situation, Putin’s increasing anger and signs of unwillingness to work things out reasonably have escalated it further.

Putin observes military maneuvers with Russian generals. | AP

He gave a speech this week in which he said, essentially, that Ukraine did not have the right to exist as a separate nation, blaming that separate existence on the policies of “communist Bolshevik Russia.” The Soviet Union had a policy of advancing the independence and the cultural and political interests of all the nationalities, including Ukraine, within its borders.

People who believed that Russia would never actually invade Ukraine are fearful now that a full-scale invasion could actually happen.

For the sake of the world, Russia cannot be meeting its legitimate security needs through the illegal taking of territory from other nations or by overthrowing their governments. That never worked out well for the U.S. either, which has done so all over the world.

The U.S. and NATO must cease their expansion to the east and their surrounding of Russia with offensive weaponry. Solutions that involve autonomy for the breakaway regions and a neutral Ukraine without offensive weaponry pointed at Russia, as is the case with Finland which is also right on the Russian border, are the only way to go.

All the sides have to back down and negotiate now.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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