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The latest and most significant upscale of tensions between the Ukraine and Russia has had such major repercussions around the Ukraine that President Peter Poroshenko has imposed Marshall Law on the streets of his country.
In layman’s terms, Marshall Law is the taking over of power of a country by that nations military. It is usually reserved for natural disasters or invasions. Hence, why, if it does get put into place in the Ukraine, it could be a sign that things could get a whole lot worse between two nations with a history of bitter relationships.
The suggestion comes hours after Ukrainian ships, three of which were seized, were fired upon in the Black Sea in what was just the latest in a long line of events between the two nations. Six Ukrainian Navy personnel were injured in the incident but the FSB, Russia’s main security agency, have defended their actions. Their official line was that the Ukrainian ships were carrying out ‘provocative actions’ and that the aims of Ukraine are of aggression, “their aim is clear–to create a conflict situation in this region.”
President Poroshenko has justified the period of Marshall Law, which begins on Wednesday and will last 30 days, by saying that it was done so in anticipation of Russian ground activity. The Ukrainian President, who many in his home country have tipped to lose the election early next year, considered that “a highly serious threat of a ground operation against Ukraine," was enough to impose Martial Law. He did however quash any suggestion that he was preparing his country for war,
"Martial law doesn't mean declaring a war. It is introduced with the sole purpose of boosting Ukraine's defense in the light of a growing aggression from Russia."
This last comment would surely have been prepped well in advance of any press conference. After all, any incident with one nation firing on and another will always be followed up quickly by talk of war.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was aggressive in his frustrations towards Ukraine, feeling that Ukraine used the incident to gain support from the west, "Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs' side."
As a result of the Black Sea incident, the Ukrainian people showed their anger towards Russia by setting fires and throwing smoke grenades at the Russian embassy in Kiev. Unfortunately, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before the tensions in this part of the world escalated once more. The militaristic nature of both Ukraine and Russia means that neither are going to be content with the other for long. Ukraine’s passing into the Black Sea, which of course caused Russia to open fire.
The Crimean Peninsula has been a hot-bed of political and militaristic tensions for well over a century. The Crimean War of the 1850s saw the Russian empire defeated by Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire. In the 21st century Russia may have lost its empire, but its issues on this piece of land come from a nation much closer to home.
It can therefore be said that these 30 days of Marshall Law in Ukraine could be huge for the future of these two countries. There has been little reaction away from the Crimean Peninsula, yet in terms of what could happen next. However, it is no understatement to say that the peninsula is a tinderbox and has been for several years. Not so long ago, the moving of troops closer to a border was enough to get international attention, therefore capturing Ukrainian ships and injuring Ukrainian seamen is sure to get put into the spotlight. Especially, if the Ukraine decide to react. The next moves of either side could be key.