Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pouring oil on troubled waters


The latest Russian Army maneuvers
would probably not qualify for that label.
President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a surprise military exercise of ground and air forces on Ukraine’s doorstep Wednesday, intending to demonstrate the country’s military preparedness at a time of heightened tensions with Europe and the United States over the turmoil gripping Russia’s western neighbor.

Russia’s military put tens of thousands of troops in western Russia on alert at 2 p.m. for an exercise scheduled to last until March 3. The minister of defense, Sergei K. Shoigu, also announced unspecified measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

The orders came as thousands of ethnic Russians gathered outside the regional parliament in Crimea’s capital, Simferopol, to protest the political upheaval in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, that felled the government of President Viktor F. Yanukovych over the weekend and turned him into a fugitive. Crimea was a part of Russian territory until the Soviet Union ceded it to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine in 1954, and Russians there have already pleaded for the Kremlin’s intervention to protect the region and its population from Ukraine’s new leadership.
And they have a convenient flashpoint to get the ball rolling whenever they are ready.

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