The situation in the Ukraine has been unfolding quite rapidly and it seems to be generating more and more news–but only in bits and pieces. When something like this happens–slowly, but on-going–it’s hard to be sure of which way this will all unfold–and when. Last Saturday, I wrote that it would be interesting to see how Vladimir Putin would react to the political turmoil in Ukraine, once the Winter Olympics had ended.
After (assumedly) deposed Ukrainian President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled the Capital of Kiev, the National Parliament has acted swiftly in preparing to name an Interim President, is forming a new Government and has re-instituted the Constitution of 2004, which significantly limits the Powers of the Presidency. Yanukovych appears to now be in Russia and seeking political asylum. Even his supporters have denounced him!
Several days ago, Russia mobilized 150,000 Military Troop along the Russian Boarder with the Ukraine. Russia claims that it is just routine maneuvers; however, even some political analysts in Russia have stated that that that mobilization could be either to mask actual cross-boarder activities, or to test the nerves of Europe and the U. S. Russian President Putin reportedly told President Barack Obama, in a recent phone conversation that it would respect the Ukrainian territorial sovereignty.
Parts of the Ukraine–the Eastern, Southern and Crimean Regions–have maintained their allegiance to the Russian Federation. The Crimea, however, is the most important: approximately 70% of its population are Russian, and the largest Russian military installation outside of Russia–the huge Naval Base at Sevastopol–is located there. That base is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The situation in the Crimea could end-up like the Russian intervention in the breakaway region of Georgia, South Ossetia, in 2008. Today, Georgia still recognizes that region as part of its country, while Russia regards it as a separate country. But, there is something else that is going on in the Crimea.
A group of Russian-speaking, masked man stormed the Regional Parliament and Government Headquarters, in Simferopol, and planted the Russian Flag atop them. A similar-sized group also took control of the airport. These facilities are now controlled by the gunman, wearing green military fatigues which, oddly enough, had Russian Navy insignias. Local police officers did little or nothing to counter the take-over by the “Pro-Russian” Forces. Now, Russian is the regional language of the Crimea; so, perhaps the fact that the gunmen spoke Russian means nothing–or does it? Too coincidental, huh?
There are two linked articles from the International New York Times (INYT), the first of which provides some background on what happened today: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/world/europe/ukraine-tensions.html?hp; and, the second focuses on the potential for the Crimea, at least, to try to secede from the Ukraine: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/world/europe/putins-silence-on-ukraine-adds-to-confusion.html?hp. As always, stay tuned!