Deadline Set for 3 A.M.
By Harold Hutchison
Russia has given Ukrainian forces in the autonomous republic of Crimea until 3 AM local time (8 PM Eastern Time) to surrender. Should the forces not surrender, the Ukraine has been told they will “face a storm.” This comes as pro-Russia protesters occupied a building in Donetsk, a city in the eastern part of the Ukraine.
According to media reports, the Russian ultimatum comes after as many as 6,000 troops have been deployed in Crimea, in essence seizing the naval base of Sevastopol without firing a shot. Russia has also benefited from the apparent defection of the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy, which served as the flagship of the Ukrainian Navy. The commander of the Ukrainian Navy was also fired after he declared his allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.
As Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Kiev, Obama began to face growing criticism among Republicans. Sarah Palin pointed to comments she made to Foreign Policy magazine during the Russian invasion of Georgia, when she said, “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”
Meanwhile, the Obama Administration reportedly is planning a range of economic sanctions on Russia. “There could even be, ultimately, asset freezes, visa bans. There could be certainly disruption of any of the normal trade routine. There could be business drawback on investment in the country. The ruble is already going down and feeling the impact of this,” Secretary Kerry told NBC’s Meet the Press. Bilateral events have been cancelled, and there is talk of expelling Russia from the G8.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on Obama to also invite Georgia into NATO, while also having the alliance meet to coordinate a response to the crisis in the Ukraine. Rubio also noted the United States, “shouldn’t even be thinking about arms-control negotiations with Russia anytime soon. And especially not negotiations led by a State Department official, such as Ms. [Rose] Gottemoeller, who has tried to play down and potentially kept information from Congress and our allies about Russian violations of arms-control agreements.”
Can economic sanctions solve this crisis, or will Americans see a new European war break out on prime-time TV tonight?