Written by Staff Writer, CNN
What is causing unrest in eastern Europe? Because the crisis is not causing unrest in the Baltic states, the region now looks like a potential hot spot for the Kremlin. But is the situation really that serious?
As Ukrainian chaos is forcing truck traffic from the Russian border to Hungary, we asked writer and analyst L.V. Anderson what makes this standoff different.
In December, I traveled to Kiev to investigate the roadblocks in the Eastern European country, following reports that a checkpoint had been set up on a major highway near the city.
As I approached, I saw almost everyone had also set up their own roadblock on a busy commuter road inside the city. Vehicles were driving around to pick off those who hadn’t yet set up their own blockade, often with a handful of protesters in tow.
The protest blocks actually began in December after the parliament had voted to charge separatists with undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty.
Now truck traffic is being closed along a major railway route by protesters holding fast to Russia’s insistence that it has the right to defend the rights of people in the south and east of the country, and that Kiev is simply a puppet of the United States.
As I was driving back, I stopped to see what was taking place and saw huge groups of protesters forming a line, and when they approached the roadblocks, they were met with fists of water and plastic buckets filled with sunblock.
I filmed the protesters just on the city limits, and those I encountered appeared to be just regular guys doing this, of their own accord, without police backing them up. But the fact that an array of service stations, car dealerships and a tax office was occupying a road with big traffic on it, while others were shuttered, indicated that the protesters had likely been paid.
Some protesters also occupied a train station and demanded that it is opened, despite it being highly unlikely that the railroad would still be functioning by the time trains pass through.
A few kilometers from the car dealerships, just at the border with Poland, I had the opportunity to visit a large, unmarked Russian military compound, in what appeared to be a position from which it could open fire on Ukrainian troops if need be.
On one side of the check-point, the check-in desk sat empty, but on the other side of a road which seemed to be deserted, I saw large groups of soldiers, who didn’t seem to be wearing any insignia, and armed with rifles and machine guns.
On the side of the road, I saw large, large trenches and trenches all around, and at times, I could just make out thick green armed army soldiers standing on the opposite side of the road.
On entering Russia, I was surprised to hear a flat refrain of singing through the minefield and military buildings.