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Showing posts from February 26, 2014

Russia: Using Crimea as Leverage in Ukraine

Pro-Russian demonstrations take place in the Crimean city of Sevastopol on Feb. 23. (VASILIY BATANOV/AFP/Getty Images)


As the crisis in Ukraine enters a new phase, the key to the country's political and security future may be held in an unsuspecting place: Crimea, an autonomous peninsular republic in southern Ukraine. The Crimean parliament will hold an extraordinary session Feb. 26 to discuss the situation in Ukraine amid signs that the autonomous republic is aligning even more closely with Russia than it was before the outset of protests. As one of Russia's strongest sources of leverage in Ukraine, Crimea will be an avenue through which Moscow influences its western neighbor. Already there are rumors that Russia could act militarily, but ultimately how far Russia goes will depend on how the political situation plays out in Kiev.


Crimea has long been firmly within Russia's sphere of influence. More than 60 percent of the republic is populated by ethnic Rus…