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Can Southwestern Ukraine Become a Trouble-spot?

A statue of Vladimir Lenin looms over Izmail, the administrative center of Bessarabia. (Photo: Katya Kumkova)

The failure of a ceasefire to take hold in eastern Ukraine is stoking concerns about a potential revival of trouble elsewhere.

An area of particular concern is the Ukrainian portion of Bessarabia, an oblong stretch of land southwest of Odessa, bound by the Black Sea to the east, Moldova to the west, and Romania to the south. Ranging along the north bank of the Danube River, the region features still-prosperous farms and abundant fishing. But it is also a region in the grip of a general economic malaise, where factories keep closing, even as local oligarchs keep profiteering.

“This is not the Donbas, with its economic problems and a disaffected population,” commented Anatoliy Baronin, an analyst who tracks developments in the region. “Here we should expect political moves. … A [military or financial] crisis scenario would supply the possibility for destabilization.”

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Can Southwestern Ukraine Become a Trouble-spot?

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