Fortenberry discusses crisis in Ukraine

By: Hannah Paczkowski

Tuesday, Russia and Crimea signed a treaty that would absorb Crimea into the Russian Federation. It's the biggest land grab since WWII.

“That area has a lot of Russian ethnicity and a lot of Russian sympathy and it historically has been a part of Russia,” Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry said.

Fortenberry is co-chair of the Congressional Study Group on Europe and co-chair of the Congressional Nuclear Security Working Group.

Sunday, Crimeans voted in favor of splitting from Ukraine, but Fortenberry said the voting was a sham.

“You don't get 97 percent of the population's vote. When you have these circumstances where you have armed troops roaming around in the streets, you have a dynamic atmosphere which represses the democratic outcome,” he said.

Why do we care in the U.S.?

Fortenberry said for international stability, the United States should work with their allies.

“In the 21st century, you would hope we are moving past just the use of armed aggression for resolving differences,” he said.

Some are afraid Russia could be creating another U.S.S.R. Fortenberry said countries such as Poland, Lithuania and Estonia are nervous.

The U.S. and some European nations are hoping to punish the Russians through public and financial institutions. As for using military force, Fortenberry said it doesn't look like it's heading that direction.

“The intensity of the potential for military conflict between the east and west is not very high. Russia has to pay a price, they cannot have this both ways,” he said.

Fortenberry said President Obama and European allies are working together to bring tougher sanctions and diplomatic isolation to Russia.