Russia and the United States have always maintained a careful relationship based on formality more than trust or respect. With the escalating military advances in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is testing those tensions between the two countries that have such a history of distrust and hate. Add in the one year anniversary of the Boston Bombing-whose main suspect has ties to Chechnya, a nation once under Russian control-and it is easy to understand why feelings of fear, anger, and even hate abound around the escalating situation in Russia.
According to Julie Pace’s article featured on Yahoo News, Russia amassed tens of thousands of troops along the Ukraine border to assist in the skirmishes developing between the two countries. United States President Barack Obama threatens “serious escalation” and “costs” to Putin and Russia if the military advances continue. Obama and the United States already imposed economic sanctions against Russia and threaten tighter restrictions are in store if the country does not back down in Eastern Ukraine. The European Union hit Russia with asset freezes and banned visa applications, but did not include any sanctions that affected Russia’s economy as Europe is tightly tied to the economic fortune of the large country.
According to Emily Swanson of the Huffington Post, most Americans support the U.S. threatening sanctions against Russia, although those same Americans do not believe the sanctions will work. They have no faith the Russia will back down against an empty economic threat.
On the other hand, Ukraine’s economic issues have fueled the mounting instability in the country. According to RT.com, a Russian-based television and news network, the Fitch ratings agency downgraded Ukraine from level B to a pre-default level CCC. The Fitch ratings agency is equivalent to the United States’ Standard & Poor’s ratings, and is responsible to recognize the impending ease or struggle of a European country to repay its debt. Debt obligations overwhelm Ukraine and the country now exhibits a Fitch level worse than the struggling economy of Greece. According to Yahoo News, in the week of April 7, 2014, Ukraine’s currency hit a record low in value against the American dollar.
Although the economic crisis in Ukraine is bleak, Americans are more worried about how the escalating tensions in Ukraine will affect the U.S economy. Less than a third of the population polled supports Obama’s sanctions if any Russian response could hurt the American economy. One year after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, Americans are still concerned about “lone wolf” terrorist attacks on American soil, according to Holly Bailey of Yahoo News. According to Bailey, officials are still investigating the ties between the alleged bombers and Russia, including a six month trip to Russia where officials believe alleged bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev learned how to plan and orchestrate a terrorist attack.
As violence escalates in the skirmishes in Eastern Ukraine, more countries take notice of the ongoing threat. How each country responds will depend on how real the citizens of that country feel the threat is to their nation and their families. Until then, Americans can only hope Obama’s sanctions keep the peace in Eastern Europe and diffuse the growing tensions between Americans and Russians once more.
Julie Pace, “Russia tests Obama’s ability to stop its advances,” Yahoo News
“Worse than Greece: Fitch says Ukraine’s default risk high,” RT.com
Yura Karmanau and Peter Leonard, “Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack”, Yahoo News
Emily Swanson, “Americans Support Russia Sanctions, Don’t Think They Will Work,” Huffington Post
Holly Bailey, “The mystery of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow,” Yahoo News