Russian military allowed into Crimea after emergency Parliament meeting held after pro-Russian Crimean Prime Minister Serhiy Aksyonov asked for military aid from Russia when the Kiev government appeared unable to stem the deadly protests that have been raging through the Ukraine for the past several weeks. Since the vote, over 6,000 Russian troops have been deployed, with air carriers landing in Crimean military air bases and armoured trucks rolling through city streets, despite warnings from the U.S. that such a move would be “deeply destabilizing.” The Ukrainian unrest reached critical mass when the former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by Parliament and replaced with Oleksandr Turchynov, who has spoken strongly of attempts to move Ukraine away from Russian influence and towards the European Union. Russia is strongly against this as Ukraine holds the Crimean peninsula, their only access to the Black Sea and home to their Black Sea Navy. Despite Russias massive size they are landlocked except for their northern coast, which borders on the dangerous and seldom travelled Arctic Ocean, making their Black Sea connection an important commercial holding.
The Crimean peninsula is held by Ukraine, and this status quo is protected by several charters and laws signed by Russia, the U.S. and the UK in 1994. The ongoing unrest in the Ukraine takes on a more urgent tone with this piece of information because should any involved party take action that the others feel over steps their boundaries, World War III is a very real possibility. However things have been moving much faster than most international interactions, with calls for Russian aid coming from Crimea just last week, and permission from parliament to send Russian military forces acquired with a unanimous vote in just days. Since that vote, the effect of Russian military allowed into Crimea on the regions ongoing unrest remains to be seen, but the true concern now lies in how other global players will respond to the actions. Given the strong and sudden swing in Crimean sentiment away from Russia, and the extremely large stake Russia has in the peninsula, an invasion is sadly a very real possibility. But will that help to restore stability to the region or destroy the fragile peace that now stands?
As it stands, armed men believed to be sent from Kiev attempted to wrest control of the Crimean Interior Ministry headquarters in a daring over night raid, but were repelled by Crimean militia. This led to a request from the Crimean Prime Minister for aid from Russia. However, the Crimean regional capital Simferopol issued a statement saying the attack never happened, blaming the Kiev government for trying to stir up trouble in the already unsettled region. Whatever actually happened, deputies of the Moscow house of parliament asked Putin to intervene in the interest of keeping the region stable and to “protect the Crimean population from lawlessness and violence.” With Russian military allowed into Crimea, hopefully that is all the armed forces will be ordered to do, as opposed to simply laying low anyone who disagrees with a powerful nations plans.
By Daniel O’Brien