The ongoing Ukrainecrisis saw a new twist on Thursday as Kiev claimed that Russian forces had invaded the country. The US and the EU backed up the accusations by putting forward tougher condemnations of Russia.
However, Russia denied any direct military involvement in the government-rebel conflicts in eastern Ukraine. Some Russian troops had got lost during their patrol and mistakenly stepped onto Ukraine soil, Russia said.
It is an open secret that Russia has been supporting the militias in eastern Ukraine. It is hard for Russian President Vladimir Putin to accept the fact that the new Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko has been launching major offensives in eastern Ukraine, killing a large number of separatists.
Russia is determined to keep its influence in Ukraine, especially the eastern part bordering Russia. Such determination has been clear since the very beginning of the Ukraine crisis.
Kiev underestimated Russia's determination and paid the price as Crimea joined Russia.
The question now is whether the West's rhetorical attacks and economic sanctions against Russia will force Putin to change his mind?
At least for now, the hope is slim. The Russian economy is in its worst time of recent years. But it is even worse in Ukraine. European countries will also suffer great losses in sanctioning Russia.
It is very unlikely to see the crisis grow into an all-out war. However, Kiev and the Western countries have been having trouble reaching an agreement with Moscow. As military conflicts continue, the gap widens.
Russia may have the strongest determination to refuse compromise. The EU may be the least determined to confront Russia. The US suffers the least in the Ukraine crisis. If it is not entangled in other troubles, the US will be more than active in challenging Russia.
The conflicting parties are expecting China to take a clear stance in this crisis. However, China has no deciding role in this conflict. No matter what side China takes, it won't be able to make the other side give in.
The EU, Ukraine and Russia are becoming tired of the conflicts. But Washington is not worried much, as the drawn-out crisis will only exhaust the parties on the east and west sides of Ukraine.
No matter how much Ukraine resents Russia, they are still neighbors. Ukraine has to be cautious not to become a chess piece for the West to edge out Russian influence. Also, Russia should avoid making Ukraine its permanent enemy.
If Russia and Ukraine do not recognize this, the West will not be worried about the troubled eastern Ukraine continuing to fall into the abyss of conflict.