Unrest Flares In Ukraine Once More

After a few weeks of relative calm in Ukraine, yesterday brought renewed unrest in Eastern Ukraine.

There were coordinated demonstrations by thousands of pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Luhansk. For good reason, these protests have reignited fears in Kiev and throughout the West that we could be seeing Russian military action very soon.

Indeed, hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators seized a government building in Donetsk and have been urging Putin to send troops in as a peacekeeping force. This is surely music to Putin’s ears as he has maintained that his seizure of Crimea represented not only the will of the people – which it did in the referendum – but also his role as peacekeeper in the region.

The seizure came just hours after a Ukrainian military officer was shot and killed in a confrontation with Russian troops in Crimea. The demonstrators have formed a new legislature and plan on holding a referendum before the national presidential election in Ukraine at the end of May.

This is certainly troubling news.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A German spokesman for Angela Merkel voiced the concern we are all feeling. Steffen Seibert said, “The latest developments in Donetsk and Kharkiv are something which we are all very worried about in the German government. We must urgently renew our appeal to all those in positions of responsibility to help stabilize the region and avoid such escalation.”

The interim Ukrainian government also spoke out. The acting prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said Russia was carrying out a plan “to destabilize the situation, a plan to ensure that foreign troops could cross the border and capture the territory of the country.” He added, “We will not allow this.”

But we all know that the Ukrainian government isn’t equipped to block the Russians if Putin should decide to advance. They need support – support that the West talks about offering but has yet to act upon.

I am certainly not advocating for boots on the ground. We cannot and should not go to war with Russia.

That said, we also cannot leave Ukrainians to fend for themselves – they will lose and the backlash from the loss of their sovereignty will radiate across the globe. We need to provide direct and immediate military and economic assistance to Ukrainian government now.

We’ve had months to create a plan that involves tough sanctions on Russia and military support for the Ukrainians. We’re failing on both fronts.

The situation in Ukraine is only going to get more complicated – and more dangerous.

It’s time for real leadership, not more leading from behind.

Read more at Forbes.com