Global Politics

Georgia conflict affects Ukraine

(We've heard reports of pro-Russian demonstrations in Crimea. What is the reason for this pro-Russian sentiment?) There are different types of pro-Russian sentiments. Crimea is the only region of Ukraine with a majority of ethnic Russians and therefore it's the only region with an autonomous status. The majority of pro-Russian sentiment has to do more with history, language and culture, rather than actual separatist sentiment because there isn't the kind of ethnic or religious animosity. At the same time, there's a Crimean Tartar minority in Crimea. The Tartars are basically descendants of the Mongol invasion in the 13th century and they have a strong grievance against Russia because they were ethnically cleansed, like Chechens, by the Russians in the 1940s. They constitute a vocal minority and they'd be a one which would be a problem for Crimea, rather than a conflict between Ukraine or Crimea. (Tell us more about the political climate there.) There have basically been four or five frozen conflicts since the 1990s, in Moldova, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The pro-Russian sides have won in almost all of these conflicts and in effect creates client mini-states. (What are the interests of the U.S. and Russia?) For Russia, it has a Cold War view of its sphere of influence so Russia perceives these countries as ones it has a right to control. that view is even more true of Ukraine�Russians believe Ukrainians are just slightly different Russians, and not Ukrainians. Russia has tried since the 1990s to reintegrate Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine into some kind of new Slavic union. The U.S. has been engaged in the region for a long period of time, and was involved in Ukraine's denuclearization, and as a result Ukraine received a large amount of foreign aid and political support. I think domestically this will improve McCain's numbers, because of his stronger anti-Russian rhetoric. But I think the U.S. position has been there for a long time and will continue.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Comments