I admit to being ignorant on the history of the Ukraine and have absolutely no understanding of the history of the region or the nation.
However, I have done some investigation.
In recent history Crimea was part of the Soviet Union and was given to Ukraine in 1954 – some say as a gesture of goodwill. With most of the population of the peninsula considering themselves Russian – it is very reasonable that there is significant desire on the part of the people to want to become part of Russia again.
Recent events in the Ukrainian capital forced the sitting President to flee the country and take up shelter in Russia. The pro-Russian government has been replaced with a pro-Western government. There is little doubt that Yanukovitch was corrupt and needed too be out of office. Less clear to me is that a reasonable course of action given that state of affairs is to protest and forcibly remove a sitting elected official. Elections, they say, have consequences and the method that a reasonable citizenry use to affect leadership is done at the ballot box.
Add this up and the events begin to make more sense.
Russia sees an ally thrown out by a coup and replaced with a government much less friendly. They, Russia, feels that their strategic interests are at risk specifically in Crimea. In an effort to solidify those interests, including the port of the Black Sea fleet, Putin moved into Crimea claiming he was acting in the defense of Russian citizens.
While Putin’s claims of caring for the citizenry of Crimea rings somewhat false given no threatened violence combined with Putin’s clear disregard for human rights, there is a valid point – that the region is historically Russian.
Added to this reality is the fact that I resonate with the argument that the revolt in Kiev was not the best response to a desire to change leadership.
What does this mean for the US? Well, as has been pointed out by virtually everyone – there is little we can do to influence Putin as it pertains to the peninsula; we most likely have to live with the fact that Crimea will eventually become part of Russia – but given the make-up of the people living there, this is a relatively painless eventuality.
What we need to do is identify where we and the rest of the EU will draw its line as it pertains the rest of Ukraine at large. And then send troops – to guard that line and train the Ukrainian army. Additionally, it is time to address the President’s decision to abandon the missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. Clearly The Bear is stirring and if we want to be taken seriously we need to act in a manner commensurate with a growing Russian threat.