Americans keeping their eyes on the situation involving Ukraine and Russia are wondering whether the growing tensions between the two could impact this country. Ukraine is divided, and the debate continues on whether the country should align with Europe or with Russia. While Russian troops remain in the country, the United States has promised to stand by Ukraine and is threatening sanctions against Russia. The growing tensions have brought up headline after headline in America, using a familiar term.
"Well, I don't know that we're actually in another Cold War, but certainly I think we've taken steps in that direction," Lynn Hartsell, Retired Major General, said. "The direction that both countries are taking has taken us back closer to where we were in the Cold War-era, as opposed to us being anywhere near allies."
Hartsell served 34 years in the Army and worked at the Pentagon. He has been watching the tensions rise. The Obama Administration has proposed the U.S. give $1 billion to help stabilize Ukraine's economy. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladmir Putin's relationship with Obama appears less than friendly.
"He's talked about the possibility of sanctions against Russia. Putin has responded they would take appropriate action against sanctions. Whether this is quote, 'A lot of talk,' on each side, or be more severe action to follow on each side -- yet to be determined, but certainly threats are there," Hartsell said.
Opponents to the idea say this does not resemble a Cold War because the conflict in Crimea is about military strategy and economic influence, rather than ideologies. South Dakota State University Political Science Professor Delmer Lonowski said a potential Cold War-style standoff is not on his mind.
"I am not as afraid of a Cold War as much as I am of a hot one. The hot one could escalate to a nuclear war. We have an obligation to the Ukrainians in the sense that we committed to defend them if they would be willing to give up their nuclear weapons," Lonowski said, via an email to KELOLAND News. "They did give up those weapons. As a consequence, we do have an obligation to try to assist the Ukraine diplomatically and probably economically since we will be unwilling to risk military action.
Hartsell said recent U.S. military down sizing also brings more concern about what could happen if steps are taken toward war.
"No matter how boldly you talk, how strong the things you say you will do; if they believe you neither have the capability nor the moral and physical courage to use that capability, they pay little if any attention to you," Hartsell said.