Europe

Feb 28, 2014

The battle for the Crimea: Ukraine v Russia in bloody tug-of-war

Ukraine is split, and the Russians are lurking. The history and political context of the Crimea is the source of much of the current conflict. Crikey explains the background.

Charles Richardson — Editor of The World is not Enough

Charles Richardson

Editor of The World is not Enough

The successful revolution last weekend in Ukraine that overthrew the government of Viktor Yanukovych quickly sparked fears of Russian military intervention. Realistically, however, despite the Kremlin's disparaging references to "fascists" and "armed mutiny", there is no prospect of Russia trying to conquer a hostile population in Kiev and western Ukraine. The danger has always been more limited, while still serious: that Russia would be complicit in splitting the country by giving support -- perhaps by force of arms -- to secessionists in the east and south. That danger became more live yesterday when a band of pro-Russian gunmen seized Crimean government buildings, in what The Guardian's reporter described as "a well co-ordinated military operation." Eastern and southern Ukraine are Yanukovych's power base. A glance at the geography of recent Ukrainian elections shows the divide (the maps have been widely circulated since December -- The Washington Post's version is here:

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