Russia is prepared to fight a war over the Ukrainian territory of Crimea "to protect the ethnic Russian population and its military base there", a senior Russian government official has told the FT
"If Ukraine breaks apart, it will trigger a war, the official said. - They will lose Crimea first [because] we will go in and protect [it], just as we did in Georgia", the newspaper quoted the official, and further writes:
- In August 2008, Russian troops invaded Georgia. Russia later recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Kremlin regards the Georgian conflict as the biggest stand-off between Russia and the west since the end of the Cold War.
The warning of a similar scenario comes because Ukraine’s civil conflict has fanned tension in Crimea. On the peninsula, located on the northern coast of the Black Sea where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is stationed, ethnic Russians make up almost 60 per cent of the population, with Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars accounting for the rest.
Volodymyr Konstantinov, speaker of Crimea’s parliament, said on Thursday that the region might try to secede from Ukraine if the country split. “It is possible, if the country breaks apart”, he told the Russian news agency Interfax. Konstantinov discussed the Ukraine crisis with Russian lawmakers including Sergey Naryshkin, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, or Duma, in Moscow on Thursday.
However, many government officials say in private that Ukraine falls inside Russia’s sphere of influence. “We will not allow Europe and the US to take Ukraine from us. The states of the former Soviet Union, we are one family”, said a foreign policy official. - They think Russia is still as weak as in the early 1990s but we are not”.
Statements of the Crimean official were negatively perceived in Ukraine.
"The president of the Crimean Tartars’ assembly called Konstantinov’s comments “treason”, further raising the possibility of ethnic conflict if Crimea were to separate", reported in the article.
It is to be recalled that according to an agreement between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, in case of changing the status of Crimea, it automatically goes back to the jurisdiction of Ankara.
"In 1991, after the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of an independent Ukraine, Turkey, relying on the Kucuk Kaynarca treaty, received the right to return the Crimea. However, the Turkish government, then headed by Turgut Ozal, taking into account geopolitical changes in northern Turkey and changes in the general world economic situation, did not defend this position.
Turkey limited itself only with the requirement to restore the rights of Crimean Tatars living in Crimea in minority. Over the last 23 years, much changed. Currently, if Crimea wants to join Russia, it must first declare independence from Kiev. And at this point, if complied with international law, Turkey could say: "We take control over Crimea", Turkish newspaper Hurriyet
Department of Monitoring