While leaders of the Euromaidan movement strive to consolidate their authority, not all Ukrainian citizens are buying into the new order in Kyiv. In particular, Russian-speakers in Crimea, which only became a part of Ukraine in 1954, have become the focus of international attention for their defiance of the new authorities in Kyiv.
Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Crimea has exerted considerable emotional sway over nationalist elements in Russia: many still question the legitimacy of Nikita Khrushchev’s decision 60 years ago to transfer Crimea from Russia to Ukraine, and, deep down, some harbor dreams of righting what they consider a historical wrong. This factor naturally raises concerns about potential Russian meddling inCrimea. Already the Kremlin is engaging in saber-rattling, evidenced by Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to place troops in western Russia on alert, and in statements made by defense officials that they are closely monitoring the situation in the Crimea.
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Michael Hikari Cecire is a Black Sea regional analyst and an Associate Scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.