It should come as no surprise that Viktor Yanukovich has resurfaced in Russia and insists that he is still the Ukraine’s legitimate leader.
It should come as no surprise that ‘spontaneous’ pro-Russia riots and protests have broken out in the Crimea, an area with a healthy amount of ethnic Russians.
It should come as no surprise that gunmen have seized two airports in the Crimea, as the Russian military forces begin ‘exercises’ in close proximity to the Ukrainian border.
As the hours pass, it becomes more obvious that Russia is preparing to jump into the Ukrainian crisis with both feet. Let’s look at the third point first. The situation on the ground in Crimea is becoming increasingly tense. Amid ‘spontaneous’ riots by armed Pro-Russia protesters that turned into a seizure of the parliament building in Crimea, armed soldiers wearing uniforms have seized control of two airports on the peninsula. From video and photos taken at the airports it is obvious that these men are professional soldiers. Their discipline is evident, they’re well trained and equipped, and the lack of insignias on their uniforms makes it likely that they are in fact, Russian special forces.
So, why seize two airports? The answer is as chilling as it is simple. Taking control of the airports will give Russian military forces a pre-established airhead in the Crimea if they decide to airlift forces to the region. Two airports, secured by friendly forces, are more than enough to handle an influx of Russian airborne troops. Look back on history to be your guide. The Russians did the same thing in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1980. Before even the first combat troops crossed the border, the airports were secured.
On the other side of the coin, let’s assume that the Russians do not intend on intervening militarily and are planning instead to support the ‘spontaneous’ Pro-Russian riots and recognize Crimea as a new sovereign nation-state. Holding these airports will prevent the Ukraine from moving additional forces into the Crimea.
That brings us to the first and second points. These demonstrations and seizures in Crimea are anything but spontaneous. They are likely being orchestrated by the Kremlin. With the control of the Crimea now slipping away from Kiev, it would give Yanukovich a toehold on Ukrainian soil. Russia could establish a supply and monetary pipeline to Yanukovich and his supporters to begin a new civil war.
This coming weekend should reveal a lot. All eyes are on Kiev now, wondering how it will react to the events of the last three days. It goes without saying that however the Ukraine responds, the action needs to be decisive and strong.
“The Russians are coming…..hell, they’re already here!” – text message from a friend currently in the Ukraine.