WASHINGTON — Separatists, who have surrounded the state security building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk with barricades, have called for help from Russia and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
Reuters reported that the Ukrainian government, which is trying to negotiate with the pro-Russian separatists, said they could use force to restore order in the city.
Several Ukrainian lawmakers have floated the idea of amnesty for the separatists, but has Ukraine worried that Russia will invade the country as it did to the Crimean peninsula a few weeks ago.
The problems arose after months-long Ukrainian protests led in the ouster of pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich by a parliament vote. Yanukovich was seen as the leader who allowed police snipers to kill protesters. Russia was unhappy with the ouster and promptly sent in troops to the Crimean peninsula to annex it, quickly surrounding Ukrainian naval and other military bases for days. Putin had asserted Russia’s right to intervene in Crimea to protect the pro-Russia people living there.
The Ukrainian military eventually withdrew from the peninsula, caving to the pressure and presence of Russian troops, but began to mobilize troops in mainland Ukraine in case Russia would invade the eastern, pro-Russian provinces (after reports surfaced Russia was organizing their troops along their eastern border). The crisis in Crimea only led to weak sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union.