The browser or device you are using is out of date. It has known security flaws and a limited feature set. You will not see all the features of some websites. Please update your browser. A list of the most popular browsers can be found below.
"A 2006 cable under the name of Kiev Deputy Chief of Mission Sheila Gwaltney, who as it happens is now the highest ranking diplomat at the U.S. embassy in Moscow following the departure of Amb. Michael McFaul, warns of a possible Russian threat to Crimea – Ukraine’s 'soft underbelly,'" writes Keating.
From the cable:
Discussions with a wide range of contacts in Crimea November 20-22 and officials in Kyiv discounted recent speculation that a return of pro-Russian separatism in Crimea, which posed a real threat to Ukrainian territorial integrity in 1994-95, could be in the cards. However, nearly all contended that pro-Russian forces in Crimea, acting with funding and direction from Moscow, have systematically attempted to increase communal tensions in Crimea in the two years since the Orange Revolution. They have done so by cynically fanning ethnic Russian chauvinism towards Crimean Tatars and ethnic Ukrainians, through manipulation of issues like the status of the Russian language, NATO, and an alleged Tatar threat to "Slavs," in a deliberate effort to destabilize Crimea, weaken Ukraine, and prevent Ukraine's movement west into institutions like NATO and the EU.
Read more at Slate.
Timeline of the latest development in Ukraine over the last 24 hours (thanks to our colleagues at Al Jazeera English):
In a recent Letter from Sochi, I tried to describe Putin’s motivations: his resentment of Western triumphalism and American power, after 1991; his paranoia that Washington is somehow behind every event in the world that he finds threatening, including the recent events in Kiev; his confidence that the U.S. and Europe are nonetheless weak, unlikely to respond to his swagger because they need his help in Syria and Iran; his increasingly vivid nationalist-conservative ideology, which relies, not least, on the elevation of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had been so brutally suppressed during most of the Soviet period, as a quasi-state religion supplying the government with its moral force.
Obama and Putin spoke on the phone today for an hour and a half. The White House and Kremlin accounts of the call add up to what was clearly the equivalent of an angry standoff: lectures, counter-lectures, intimations of threats, intimations of counter-threats. But the leverage, for now, is all with Moscow.
The legislators in the Russian parliament today parroted those features of modern Putinism. In order to justify the invasion of the Crimean peninsula, they repeatedly cited the threat of Ukrainian “fascists” in Kiev helping Russia’s enemies. They repeatedly echoed the need to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine—a theme consonant with the Kremlin’s rhetoric about Russians everywhere, including the Baltic States. But there was, of course, not one word about the sovereignty of Ukraine, which has been independent since the fall of the Soviet Union, in December, 1991.
If this is the logic of the Russian invasion, the military incursion is unlikely to stop in Crimea: nearly all of eastern Ukraine is Russian-speaking. Russia defines its interests far beyond its Black Sea fleet and the Crimean peninsula.
From Kyiv Post, Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper: Under Russian flag, Kalashnikov-armed checkpoints come to Ukraine:
On a road leading to the Crimean peninsula, a journalist woke up with a start. He was being stared at, through the window of the car he and his colleague from a TV station hired to drive to Crimea on March 1, by at least a half-dozen men armed with Kalashnikovs.
The men wore an assortment of military uniforms, some had their faces covered with Balaklavas. Their only insignia were orange-and-black stripy St. George ribbons, a recognized military symbol in Russia that dates back to its empire days.
“Pull over and get out,” the men barked. There was no point in arguing with people so heavily armed.
On March 1, the Russian military had not yet cemented their control of Crimea. But by the morning of March 2, they had taken over, blocking access by air, road and train to everyone except those allowed inside or outside. And journalists were not on the list of people to be let through checkpoints.
After they were stopped on March 1, the journalists had their luggage inspected twice, and their bulletproof vests and helmets (brought for themselves and their colleagues) confiscated. Their pleas to return the company equipment went unanswered.
“I have been to many nasty checkpoints in the world, I covered drug trafficking wars in Columbia, but I have never had my bulletproof vest confiscated,” the journalist later said, requesting anonymity for security reasons.
The camouflaged men made it clear they did not like journalists.
“You're provocateurs,” one of the men said. “Your helmet has a bullet hole in it, if it ends up in front of the camera, we will be accused of shooting.
Ukraine's flags and a poster are pictured in front of Russia's embassy during a protest rally against Russian intervention in Crimea, in Riga March 2, 2014. Ukraine is preparing to defend itself against Russia but will ask other countries for help if Russia expands its military action, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United Nations said on Sunday. According to local media, about a thousand people attended the protest rally. (Reuters/Ints Kalnins)
Armed men check stand guard near the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of Simferopol March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised on Sunday for war and called up its reserves, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)
If Ukraine looks neatly delineated on maps, its often-bloody history is a tangle of invasions and occupations, peoples and beliefs. It is a place that has been struggling for centuries to define itself. And now it finds itself so sharply divided — between support for Russia on one side of the country and loyalty to the West on the other — that it often seems more like two countries than one.
On opposite sides of Ukraine, two cities, each of about 1 million people, illustrate that divide.
The eastern city of Donetsk can seem like a cliche of post-Soviet grimness, a place of Stalinist-era apartment blocks, tin-roofed shacks and loyalty to Russia. In the west, Lviv has emerged as a center for Ukrainian artists and writers, a huge draw for European tourists and a city desperate for closer ties to the West.
To the fiercest pessimists, as well as to extremists on both sides, the cities are already in different nations.
"The country is already separated," said Ivan Reyko, a 30-year-old factory worker from Donetsk who joined a recent demonstration of about 100 people in the city's main plaza, Lenin Square, where a 30-foot-tall statue of the Soviet hero gazes proudly toward the horizon. "There is no way back to a united Ukraine."
A recent series of ominous signs has diplomats warning the region could easily stumble into widespread violence. Among them: military drills just across the border by 150,000 Russian soldiers, and the seizure of the parliament building in the Russian-speaking region of Crimea by unidentified gunmen, who flew the Russian flag and chanted "Crimea is Russia."
People attend a rally at Independence Square in Kiev March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade, creating the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. (Reuters/Konstantin Grishin)