Chicago Congressman Mike Quigley on Tuesday called the ever-changing political and military climate in Ukraine “a very dangerous situation where [a] certain type of provocation could start a major war.”
Quigley, the 5th District Congressman from Chicago’s North Side, landed in Ukraine Monday as part of a U.S. delegation led by Vice President Joe Biden.
As the clock inched toward midnight, Quigley spoke in a telephone interview from Maidan Square, the past site of independence rallies. Ukraine, he said, remains a city of despair but also great hopefulness.
“The past president left a broken economy,” he said, but also noted the country is “ironically coupled with extraordinary optimism and hope. If you walk through the streets here and other cities you know this is their turning point.”
The delegation on Tuesday traveled to the south of Ukraine.
“We were in the South today and went into a synagogue,” Quigley said, adding there were cheers for the U.S. delegation, “hundreds of American flags waiving. The sense of the American role is a very positive one couple with the optimism there is a desire that we do more."
But the political and military situation remains taut with Russian troops on the border and pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in eastern Ukraine.
Vice President Biden called on Russia today to honor its public commitment to peace. “These commitments made, they should be fulfilled. We need to see these kinds of concrete steps, we need to see them without delay.”
According to Quigley 89 percent of Ukrainians want a unified country, but he also acknowledged there are no simple solutions.
But Quigley believes economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. are working.
“I think the sanctions are starting to work,” he said. “The rubble is at an all-time low. Their stock market has not about 20 percent of its value.”
Ukrainian presidential elections are slated for May 25.
“There’s no perfect solution,” Quigley said. “This is degrees of losing for a while until this country stabilizes and elects a new government and begins constitutional reforms.”