Ukraine Crimea region a potential powder keg

By Scott Theis, Managing Editor

The Ukraine is the newest country that may cause a US-Russia showdown. Since the beginning of the year, Ukraine has ousted former pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovich after deadly protests with the death toll reaching roughly 75. After the revolt, Yanukovich was replaced by new Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk. The majority of the country appears to be stable, but in some financial turmoil as the new Prime Minister says that $37 billion had disappeared from government accounts and up to $70 billion had been moved out of the country. ‘Reuters’ reports that the European Union has frozen assets of Yanukovich and 17 others linked to potential human rights violations and illegal use of state funds.

With the government ready to move on from this episode, there is one region that still has plenty of issues to settle. The Crimean peninsula was formerly part of Russia, but was gifted to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev in the 50’s while both were still members of the Soviet Union. The peninsula is connected to Ukraine and not Russia, but has been the subject of recent pro-Russia actions by its citizens as roughly 60% of those on the peninsula are of Russian descent.

The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has invaded Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that it is there as a stabilizing force and to help protect Russian nationals in the country. The invasion of Russian forces seems to have stoked further tensions in Crimea as the Crimean Parliament voted last week to rejoin Russia. President Obama has stated that Crimea rejoining Russia would violate the Ukrainian Constitution and international law. The rebellion has starting spreading to the eastern Ukraine which is traditionally more pro-Russia.

The Ukrainian national government seemed to be headed towards stability, but unrest in Crimea and pro-Russia demonstrations starting to mount throughout the country could lead to all-out war in the country. With Russian involvement and spreading chaos the area is going to be the subject of strict scrutiny by the US and its allies.

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