The conflict in Ukraine has officially come to the states. On Wednesday, pro-Russian militia forces announced that they have captured Simon Ostrovosky, a journalist who works for Vice Magazine. Can we officially start getting upset about this situation now?
If you've been paying attention to the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia over the past two weeks, you know that things there are pretty dire. Russian troops are amassed along the border. The Obama administration refuses to do much more than put half-hearted sanctions on Russian officials. The EU is next-to-useless. And, in spite of a treaty signed by both sides that urged combatants to lay down their arms, Pro-Russian militants continue to occupy an increasingly large chunk of the eastern half of the country.
Amid the chaos, pro-Russia forces have begun snatching those who are acting out against them. Perhaps most troubling are the vague reasons that the militants are using as justifications for these abductions. In the case of Simon Ostrovosky, for example, pro-Russia forces accused the journalist of "bad activities". They refused to divulge more details.
Certainly, Ostrovsky's Twitter feed is filled with information that might not please those forces occupying Ukraine and Sloviansk, the town where much of the fighting has centered in recent days. However, most of the reporting, while still lightly sprayed with the snark most young people use on their Twitter feeds, is still entirely based in fact. Some people would call it subversive; others would simply call it journalism.
“We condemn any such actions, and all recent hostage-takings in eastern Ukraine, which directly violate commitments made in the Geneva joint statement,” said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in response to the abduction. “We call on Russia to use its influence with these groups to secure the immediate and safe release of all hostages in eastern Ukraine.”
Russia would be smart to remedy this situation quickly, because, as Iran learned in the ‘80s, nothing whips the American public into a frenzy quicker than some tyrant putting Americans in jeopardy. That might sound a little jingoistic, but give this kidnapping two days to make the rounds and let's see what happens.
Ostrovsky might be the first American to be taken, but he's hardly the first person. Below, find a little insight into the 12 others who have been forcefully abducted since the fighting in Ukraine began.