Expert: Russia-Ukraine tensions rising for 2 decades

National/World News

Russian military forces block a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne Sunday. (Credit: CNN)

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DENVER -- Tensions are escalating in Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula where Ukraine’s envoy says 16,000 Russian troops have poured into the country since Feb 24th.

The world continues to watch and wait and consider sanctions if Russia doesn’t pull back.

But Ambassador Chris Hill, the Dean of International Studies at the University of Denver, said this is not a new conflict.

He says tensions have been escalating for more than 20 years between the two countries, since Ukraine broke off from the Soviet Union. “Russia, in effect has never really let go,” Hill said.

Russia says it’s moving into the Crimean Peninsula to protect its Russian minority in the country, adding it is trying to preserve democracy. Hill said that’s unlikely. “Russia is clearly concerned that Ukraine is moving westward.”

In fact, Russia is even considering legislation to annex Crimea, but is brushing off reports it’s planning a full assault if Ukrainian forces don’t surrender.

The European Union has agreed to consider targeted economic measures against Russia if troops aren’t pulled back.

Tuesday, Secretary of State, John Kerry will arrive in the Ukrainian capital, warning Russia to back off saying, "there are visa bans. There are asset freezes. There is isolation with respect to trade and investment."

Hill said the U.S. must do something. “If this crisis continues, we cannot do nothing, we need to respond.” Adding, “A Russia without Ukraine is just Russia. A Russia with Ukraine is back to the Soviet Union.”

Additionally, the world’s seven major powers have suspended preparations for the upcoming G8 Summit that was set to be held in Sochi.

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