Crisis in Ukraine causing global tension - Fox 2 News Headlines

Crisis in Ukraine causing global tension

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The crisis in Ukraine is raising the tension between Russia and the West.

President Barack Obama has called for a cease-fire in Ukraine, to allow a thorough investigation of the plane crash site. However, a local expert on Russian politics said the downing of the Malaysian airliner could trigger a far worse scenario.

"This is about as big of a nightmare situation as you can imagine," said Jordan Gans-Morse.

Gans-Morse, a Northwestern University Political Scientist, said that the downing of a commercial airliner over Ukraine turns an already tense situation into a potentially explosive one for the United States and world economy.

For months, Russian separatists on Ukraine’s eastern border have been supported by militarily sent in by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Friday, President Obama called on Putin to back down and take control of the separatist movement.

"We want Russia to take the path that would result in peace in Ukraine, but so far at least Russia has failed to take that path. Instead it has continued to violate Ukrainian sovereignty and to support violent separatists," President Obama said.

However, Gans-Morse said that it’s unclear how much control Putin has over the separatists.

"My personal assessment is not enough to make them stop fighting. But he certainly could stop the flow of weapons and fighters across the border of Russia and Ukraine, and has not done so," Gans-Morse said.

Putin has a well-deserved reputation for being a tough and scary leader, but Gans-Morse said that Putin is also a pragmatist -- who likely doesn't want to see the situation escalate.

Yet, he said that could happen if Putin feels like he's being cornered.

"And any sense that the U.S. or West in general does not show respect towards Russia, I think that could -- even with his pragmatism -- lead him to lash out. And the scariest scenario would be Russia actually crossing into the border," Gans-Morse added.

Gans-Morse said that while sanctions are beginning to squeeze Russia’s economy, they're also beginning to affect U.S. allies in Europe -- which depend on Russian business.

Tougher sanctions, he added, could damage the international economy, which is still recovering. 

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