Residents of Ukraine fear Vladimir Putin will divide their country and want the United States to exert more pressure on the Russian president, according to Matthew Kaminski, an editorial board member of The Wall Street Journal.
"It's kind of a quiet dread … I don't think anybody here is expecting Russian tanks to roll in, but there's definitely a feeling that's very serious and very unpredictable, Kaminski, who is in Kiev, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"There's a very real fear that the country might be carved up and not really knowing what Vladimir Putin is capable of. That's the problem with a one-man ruler, virtually one-man ruler in Russia.
"A lot of Russians don't take this country seriously and they never have."
Amid the tension, an effort by the U.S. to arrange a diplomatic meeting between Russia and Ukraine over Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula failed on Wednesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry said he will continue to press for talks this week.
Kaminski said he spoke with Ukraine's opposition leader who told him the U.S. needs to give more than just moral support.
'[They] very much are counting on the U.S. to put the screws on Russia financially and economically,'' he said.
"They are realistic. They don't think that America's going to send the 82nd Airborne in, but they'd like to see the U.S. exert as much pressure, along with the Europeans, on the Putin regime as it stands."
The Ukraine crisis is erupting as both the Russian and Ukrainian economies remain extremely vulnerable, according to Kaminski.
"The Russia economy [is shaky] because the ruble is tanking . . . and the Ukrainian economy has been mismanaged for years. The scale of Russia here is really unimaginable and they need to do some very basic reforms to get this country moving with growth," Kaminiski said.
"The currency [in Ukraine] is devaluing very fast and they have a lot of debt payments coming due in the next few months. Today, the EU announced $15 billion is going to tide them over."
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