Saturday, 1 March 2014

Russia in Crimea: Crescando of protests and fears

Originally published in the Reoccurring revolutions and protests section here. It has been reposed and updated. 

The Awaken Russian giant in Ukraine challenging the EU and US. By Latuff

The geopolitics spilling over in Ukraine is one example of the clash between the hegemonic and the rising regional powers ie United States/European Union and Russia seeking to gain new alliances abroad. While expanding their political and economic influences in countries in conflicts. The United States its loosing its status as the world's hegemonic superpower with the rise of China and Russian assertiveness in Russia's backyard. The six year old economic recession has exhausted the US military budget while politicians remain in denial about the failing imperialist Pax Americana policy. Democracy has been use as a catch 22 to overthrow the democratic President Viktor Yanukovych (who has been granted Russian protection) for a stressed interim government and new leader who are struggling to prevent a Yugoslavia like breakup of Ukraine. Yanukovych has resurfaced in Southern Russia as an invited guest by the Russian government. He recently held a press conference on aftermath of his overthrow which he reiterated he is the president of Ukraine. Separatism is experiencing a revival in Crimea where Russians who form the majority over the indigenous Crimean Tatars are asserting their preferences for Russia and a split with Ukraine. This is to the chagrin of Ukrainians in Crimea and across Ukraine. Crimea is home to one of Russia's largest naval bases Black Sea Fleet in continental Europe equivalent to the United States' Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain. Crimea was Russian territory for most of its history until 1954, when the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine initially as a gift. Crimea was given autonomous status over the years. 

Geopolitical history of Ukraine

Ukraine's Crimea: Hotbed of Russian Bound Seperatism Euro News

Armed gunmen have stormed the local parliament in the Crimean capital Simferopol chanting Russia and waving Russian flags. The gunmen have been replaced by local self defense volunteers from across Simeforpol who have created barricades and are currently patrolling the area to maintain safety. Protesters have continued to gather in Simferopol to show their support for Crimean autonomy. While denouncing the new Ukrainian government in Kiev that doesn't represent them. Crimea's protests have been backed with Russian speaking and pro-Russian protesters in Eastern and Southeast Ukraine. The counter protest against the Maidan protesters in Kiev has been a boon for Russia watching the events. United States too has been watching the protests in Crimea while rising alarms about Russian military troops possibly maneuvering around Crimea. Keep in mind that a strategic Russian naval base is located in the region whose borders nearly touch Russian territory. The Russian parliament known as the Duma is currently voting on the possibility of sending troops to the Crimea after the Russian president raised alarm about the safety of Russian speakers in Crimea and in Eastern Ukraine. The United States along with the EU has warned Russia on over stepping its limits in Ukraine's messy affairs. Even if fears involve Crimea. The Ukrainian government has called on the Western countries for support  in case Russia does decide on sending troops. The events in Crimea have grabbed the headlines and been dissected haphazardly by mainstream media channels CNN and MSNBC who are comparing the situation to a replaying of Cold War tensions. Some are looking to the South Ossetia-Georgian war in 2006 involving Russian troops invading South Ossetia for answer to Russia's panic over Ukraine.    

In Kiev meanwhile, members from the Svoboda party have received top positions in the new transitional government. Neo Nazi protesters and Svoboda leaders have hijacked in the same manner of rebel forces in Syria and Libya the peaceful protests in Maidan to forcefully demand that Ukraine be independent from Russian influences. And be left alone to strengthen its connections to EU/NATO countries. Anti-Russian and anti-Jewish sentiments by these groups and other hardcore pro-Western Ukrainians have created an air of violent tension in Maidan, Crimea and Eastern as well as Western Ukraine. Now fighting words aimed at frightening Russia to back down from possibly "invading" or interfering in Ukraine's internal affairs has played out via the media  adding to Ukraine's already uncertain future. The West wants to make sure that Russia and other neighboring Russian allies understand  that Ukraine is now under Western political protection. New elections have been called for May 25th to settle the tensions and appease the protesters. However, Ukrainians are not taking no for an answer.

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