Russia Under Fire!
Saying that Russia continues its efforts to destabilize eastern and southern Ukraine, the United States of America announced that it is stepping up Russian sanctions over Ukrainian crisis.
In her testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary for Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, said the US has imposed significant costs on Russia in response to Russia’s cynical and aggressive ploy in eastern Ukraine.
Recently, the U.S. enacted new sanctions on seven Russian government officials, including two members of President Putin’s inner circle, and 17 entities.
On the economic side, the US has tightened export licenses for any high-technology items that could contribute to Russia’s military capabilities.
According to Ms. Nuland, President Obama made clear that the US government is prepared to exact a higher cost if Russia takes further steps to destabilize Ukraine including disrupting the May 25th elections.
Russian Economy On The Verge Of Collapse?
According to Ms. Nuland, because of its destabilizing efforts, the Russian economy is already buckling under the pressure of these internationally imposed sanctions.
“Its credit rating is hovering just above ‘junk’ status.” – Ms. Nuland
It is estimated that $51 billion in capital has fled Russia since the beginning of the year, approaching the $60 billion figure for all of 2013.
In addition, Russian bonds are trading at higher yields than any debt in Europe.
Ms. Nuland underscored that as the ruble has fallen, the Central Bank has raised interest rates twice and has spent close to $30 billion from its reserves since early March to stabilize it.
Violence Still Escalates In Ukraine
According to Ms. Nuland, since April 17th, all the efforts of the Ukrainian side and of the OSCE have been met with more violence, mayhem, kidnappings, torture and death.
There is a rise of separatism where pro-Russia separatists have seized at least 35 buildings and 3 TV/radio centers in 24 towns.
Armed and organized Russian agents roamed the cities and towns across Donetsk and into Luhansk.
In addition, kidnapping of civilians is on the rise. A recent report says 22 kidnappings have been attributed to pro-Russia separatists including the 8 Vienna Document inspectors and their Ukrainian escorts who were released after 8 days as hostages.
The separatists are on a mission to spread terror. Protests are controlled by pro-Russian thugs. Last week, the Ukrainian government announced that separatists used MANPADs to shoot down a Ukrainian helicopter, killing the pilots.
Other tragic incidents took place in Odesa where more than 40 died in the violent clashes reportedly instigated by pro-Russian separatists.
US Supporting Ukraine
The US is supporting Ukraine with financial, technical and non-lethal security assistance as it prepares for democratic presidential elections.
According to Ms. Nuland, the U.S. is providing assistance to Ukraine in areas in which it needs most help.
In addition to $92 million in FY2013 State/USAID funds and $86 million in FY2014 funds, it is providing an additional $50 million in technical assistance and the $1 billion dollar loan guarantee under the authority passed by Congress on April 1st.
The US says this support is vital to Ukraine’s efforts to administer the presidential elections successfully on May 25th.
Ms. Nuland pointed out that the best rebuke to violent separatism is a free, fair election across Ukraine in which average citizens confirm their faith in achieving these goals politically.
US Rejects Russia’s Claims And Propaganda
With the recent seizure of buildings in six eastern Ukrainian towns, the United States of America slammed Russian disinformation and propaganda that it is not invading Ukraine.
According to media reports, armed pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a coordinated operation conducted in six cities in eastern Ukraine. Takeovers have occurred simultaneously in multiple locations in eastern Ukraine: Donetsk, Slavyansk, Krasnyi Liman, Kramatorsk, Chervonoarmiysk, and Druzhkovka.
Focusing on Facts
The US has underscored that the incidents on Ukraine reaffirmed the tactics Russian forces used in the early stages of the Crimea invasion.
In addition, amid claims from officials of the Russian federation on any intention of occupying or invading, Ms. Power said the whole world now knows that they weren’t protecting minorities at all.
However, the fact is that many of the armed units that were outfitted in bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed.
The armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called for referendums and union with Russia.