Ukraine Threatens War Over Crimea, But Options Are Limited

Week After Takeover, Interim Govt Not Ready for War With Russia

With autonomous Crimea’s parliament approving a referendum for secession and Russia’s parliament approving military action in the area, the week-old Ukraine interim government is getting the sense that its maritime province is quickly slipping away. That’s got them riled up, and threatening war.

That’s the rhetoric the anti-Russia protesters in Kiev want to hear, but as a practical matter Ukraine’s military options are few to none, with both the majority of Crimeans wanting secession and Russia’s much larger military willing to back them.

And that’s assuming Ukraine’s military is even willing to go along with such a war, a big if since protesters took the nation over a week ago. Ukraine’s Navy flagship, the Hetman Sahaidachny, is refusing orders from the interim government, and is reportedly flying the Russian flag.

While US politicians have also ratcheted up the rhetoric, US officials concede that Russia’s troops in Crimea are setting up defensive positions and are in a “self-defense posture only.”

Reports from Crimea’s government say they’ve got Russian troops helping them protect government buildings in anticipation of the referendum, and with a sense that will easily back secession and re-accession into the Russian federation, it seems that Russia doesn’t need to “invade” at all, but simply needs to keep the interim government at bay until Crimean voters affirm the switch.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.