Ukraine's most famous political figure and presidential candidate (Yulia Tymoshenko) and protest collective (Femen) may be women, but according to the government in Kyiv only men pose as a formidable threat.
How else do we interpret the curious decision to issue an entry ban to all single Russian men between the ages of 16 and 60? According to Russian press sources, about 45 Russian citizens were pulled from their Ukraine-bound flights since the entry restrictions were put in place by the Ukrainian borders service today.
The full document outlining this policy was made public by the Russian air carrier Aeroflot via Twitter today. The authorities claim the influx of "extremists" from Russia was the reason behind the sweeping entry ban. Apparently civilian single men pose a threat while women don't.
"This applies to Russian citizens because there is information about possible provocations at the border, up to and including terrorist attacks. Attention will be primarily paid to men of an active age, traveling alone or in a group," said Oleh Slobodian, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian border service.
The restrictions also affect Ukrainian citizens from Crimea: men between the ages of 16 to 60 and women ages 20 to 35. Both Russian men and Crimean Ukrainians can bypass the restrictions if they travel as families or show proof of familial ties or an urgent need to be in Ukraine, e.g., visiting a sick relative or attending a funeral.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is preparing a response to the measure that will likely further restrict movement between Russia and Ukraine, which is the world's second largest migration corridor (after U.S.-Mexico). President Vladimir Putin has reiterated his right to use force in eastern Ukraine in Thursday's televised Q&A on Russian TV. Pro-Russian demonstrators have swept the region in recent days, as demonstrators blocked roads, seized government buildings and police stations. Kyiv fears of losing the region, which Mr. Putin called by its historical Russian-Empire term "Novorossiya" (New Russia).
Unlike the bloodless annexation of Crimea earlier this spring, a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine may lead to a full-blown war between the countries, which neither Kyiv nor Moscow can afford to wage. There's still hope for a diplomatic solution, as four-way talks between Ukraine, Russia, the European Union and the U.S. began Thursday in Geneva.