Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Analysis: Russia, Ukraine - Crimea a Ticking Bomb


Joshua Kucera writes in The San Francisco Chronicle:

A marble plaque on the wall of the Russian Sailors' Club, one of the city's trademark white granite neoclassical buildings, reads: "Time Capsule: To be opened by service members of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and citizens of the hero city of Sevastopol, 22/2/2021."

In 2021, however, there may be a problem finding a Russian naval official to open it - Sevastopol is part of Ukraine, whose government wants Russia and its fleet to vacate this port city of 400,000 inhabitants by 2017.

While the Russian-Ukrainian dispute over natural gas has garnered international headlines in recent months, it is Crimea - an autonomous 10,000-square-mile peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea - that has more long-term potential for conflict between the two former Soviet states, most analysts agree.

About 58 percent of Crimea's 2 million inhabitants are ethnic Russians, and Sevastopol is home to a major Russian naval base. Ukraine has drawn Russia's ire by its friendly relations with the West and firm desire to join NATO. And like South Ossetia, the breakaway state that helped fuel last year's war between Georgia and Russia, Crimea is an enclave whose residents mostly favor closer ties with Russia.

More here.

Image source: travel2crimea.com


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