The situation along the Ukraine-Crimea frontier remains tense but relatively calm, as Russian troops shore up the defenses of the breakaway region pending a vote on secession, and Ukrainian officials claim a massive “invasion” of 16,000 troops.
US officials are throwing out threats, demanding an immediate pullout, but Russia says their troops are in the Crimea to stay, and won’t leave until the situation is “normalized.”
Last week, pro-West protesters in Kiev ousted the government, sparking pro-secession calls from the Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and is opposed to the new “interim” government.
Crimea has long existed as an “autonomous region” within the Ukraine, and has now scheduled a referendum on secession. They have suggested that they might also seek reaccession into the Russian Federation.
Western officials are opposed to the secession, though interestingly they were nowhere near so averse to the idea when Ukraine had a pro-Russian government and the secession was in the pro-West city of Lviv.
Though Ukraine’s interim government has dubbed Russia’s involvement a “declaration of war,” they appear not to have the ability to retake the Crimea militarily, and Russia seems content to simply hold the line until the referendum affirms Crimea’s division from the Ukraine.