A topographic map of Ukraine
This morning's headline read, "Obama under pressure to rein in Russia.
Last Friday Obama gave an address saying, "There would be costs" if Russia entered Ukraine militarily.
Early on Saturday, in obvious defiance of Obama's threat, the Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin broad authority to use military force in Ukraine and later that day and into Sunday Russian troops secured complete control of the Crimean peninsula.
Crimea is largely populated by Russian speaking ethnic Russians and is home to the Russian Black Sea fleet legally stationed in Sevastopol under a long term lease agreement signed with the Ukraine government in 1991 after it became independent with the demise of the Soviet Union.
Authorities in the semi-autonomous Crimean region had previously asked Putin to intervene when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a coup earlier in February.
Now with the Russian move into Crimea reports indicate the apparent support by the majority Russian speaking population.
Interestingly, these reports indicate Ukrainian troops, police and security units in Crimea have remained in their barracks or inside posts with no violent confrontations occurring with the Russian troops.
Meanwhile in the U.S. Congress the usual phalanx of old Republican cold war warriors are in high dudgeon with South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham intoning, "Create a democratic noose around Putin's Russia" while Senator Marco Rubio of Florida suggested, "Revisit the missile defense shield". Even Democrat Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois got into the fray saying of Putin, "Kick him out of the G-8" -- the economic group of 8 nations including Russia that interesting enough is supposed to hold a summit in June in Sochi, Russia. Thus far Obama has gotten the other G-8 members to only suspend preparations for the Sochi meeting. Secretary of State John Kerry, in T.V. interviews suggested imposing sanctions on Russia, boycott Sochi and expel Russia from the G-8. Yet Germany has opposed Russian expulsion, a sign all in the west are not in full agreement on how to deal with Russia, Putin and the crisis in Ukraine.
But let's take a somewhat closer look at the crisis in Ukraine. Ukraine is not like the crisis in Syria or Iraq, Libya even Iran.
It is on Russia's doorstep and has huge economic ties with Russia which supplies natural gas not only to Ukraine but with pipelines running throughout the country that supply gas to all of Europe.
The Russia of today is not the woebegone country that existed after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Economically it has recovered and is a major oil and gas producer and exporter.
As for the population of Ukraine, not only Crimea but in the south and east is a largely Russian speaking population and sides with Russia politically.
Historically, only in western Ukraine and its capitol Kiev has there been long standing opposition to Russia which was restrained only as a subservient part of the Soviet Union.
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