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Posted on Apr 23, 2014 in Eastern Europe, Foreign Policy Issues, Ukraine and Crimea | 0 comments

Transdniestria-a litmus test of Russian colonial expansionism

Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), otherwise known as Transdniestria (TD) is a breakaway region of Moldova, just to the north and west of the Black Sea port city Odessa in the Ukraine. In Moldova, with only 5.8 percent ethnic Russians, this sliver of land from the Dniester River, encroaching on the city of Bender on the other side of the Dniestria, has a majority of its population ethnic Russians. Bender was part of the former Bessarabia Socialist Republic in the Soviet Union (USSR). They have come into the news following the absorption of Crimea into Russia as they’ve asked for a similar status. Russia, acquiescing to TD’s vociferous requests to join it, will likely be kept as a bargaining chip only. Such a move would signal the most extreme of colonial expansionist intentions and surely would lead to some sort of military confrontation, which I doubt Russia wants. Moldova itself, was a Socialist Republic in the USSR and has been part of Romania in the past. Today, there is a...

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Posted on Apr 17, 2014 in Eastern Europe, Foreign Policy Issues, President Obama, Ukraine and Crimea | 0 comments

Russia and Ukraine What It’s Really About: Diplomatic Challenge for Obama

It is a widely held belief that the West has no real military options to prevent Russia from moving on Eastern Ukraine. Which is not to say that they couldn’t cause one heckuva Alka-Seltzer headache for Putin—even on the military front. Weapons, financing, and even “military advisers,” could require too many shots of vodka in all of those Alka-Seltzers to make any such move by Russia, if not unthinkable, at least quite uncomfortable to seriously contemplate. And that is not even considering the cost of economic and political sanctions that are all but a certainty should Russia move to take over Eastern Ukraine. And yet, the steps taken so far, are eerily familiar: An ethnic Russian population takes over government buildings, Russia concerned for the safety of those ethnic Russian Ukrainians should a civil war begin, Russian military in place to “protect” those ethnic Russians. Why would Russia risk all of this, especially in the aftermath of the “good feelings” left by the enormously costly Sochi Olympics? First of...

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Posted on Mar 31, 2014 in Eastern Europe, Foreign Policy Issues, President Obama, Ukraine and Crimea | 0 comments

Russian troop movement at Ukrainian border-what does it mean?

Negotiations with Russia over the Ukraine are reaching a critical junction. Putin’s call to Obama, which lasted an hour, is encouraging. Obama reiterated, reportedly in the clearest of terms, the need to protect Ukrainian sovereignty. As a first step, he demanded that Putin remove troops massed at the Western Russian border with the Ukraine. They agreed that further negotiations should be between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. This they proceeded to commence the next day. Following the first meeting between them, Kerry publicly reassured Ukrainian leadership that he wouldn’t make any agreements without first consulting them. It is crucial that Secretary Kerry be firm in his demand for a withdrawal of, or significant reduction in forces at the border while at the same time reassuring the Russians of a full hearing of their demands. Although Putin is likely to retain many troops there, to serve as leverage in negotiating with the Ukrainians, if he complies with demands to stand down some of his...

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Posted on Mar 25, 2014 in Eastern Europe, Foreign Policy Issues, Ukraine and Crimea | 0 comments

Focus shifts to the eastern Ukraine after Crimea takeover.

Following the takeover of Feodosia, the third and final Ukranian military base on Crimea, taken within the past few days, Interim President Olexander Turchynov has pulled the last Ukrainian troops out of Crimea. The annexation by Russia, which began on March 16, is now a fact. The focus at once turns to the eastern Ukraine, which borders on western Russia. In this area of the Ukraine, ethnic Russians predominate and Yanukovych, the now overthrown leader of Ukraine, is in exile, so to say, still claiming to be its only legitimately elected President. Russia’s initial claim that their actions in Crimea were to protect their “compatriots”–ethnic Russians– rings ominously for the similarly composed eastern Ukraine. Tensions have mounted First the Russians held “military exercises” near their eastern border with the Ukraine. Now those troops have been reinforced with considerably more manpower. Putin has said that he wouldn’t invade the Ukraine, but even as he said this was increasing military forces along the border. Historians would be forgiven if he or...

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Posted on Mar 12, 2014 in Ukraine and Crimea, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Ukraine and Crimea, Part II up to the present crisis.

In Part I, we saw that Ukraine translated as “borderlands” and indeed over the years, most of its neighbors have encroached on its borders numerous times. In the twentieth century, the Ukraine was absorbed into the Soviet Union as a Soviet Socialistic Republic. Today, in the Eastern Ukraine, the side bordering with Russia, there is a majority of ethnic Russians. They are presumed to be pro Yanukovych, and indeed, he is presumed to be “hiding out” in the East. As a result of W.W. II, Stalin drove many of the muslim Tatars out of Crimea, ostensibly because of their sympathy to the Nazis. Following the collapse of The Soviet Union, Crimean Tartars started returning to their homeland. Crimea joined the new Ukraine, albeit as noted, with a large degree of autonomy. In 2008, Russia was accused of giving a sizable number of Russian passports to Crimeans. In the 2004 election, the vast majority of Crimeans voted for Viktor Yanukovych. Following the overthrow of Yanukovych, several anti-Russian measures were taken...

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