Ukraine’s interim government was able to spin a border incident with Crimea today as both a Russian “invasion” and a grand military victory for Ukraine, when a small number of Russian troops deployed to the Arabat Spit crossed into the Ukrainian half and returned to the Crimean side amid a Ukraine air force deployment.
The Arabat Spit is a narrow sandbar that runs along the east coast of Crimea. Most of it belongs to the Crimean region of Lenine Raion, but a fraction in the north is part of Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast.
The Russian troops were sent to protect a gas terminal on the spit, and deployed by helicopter from outside the town of Strilkove, right along the frontier. They landed on the Kherson side though, which is what caused the fuss.
The Arabat Spit formed in the early Middle Ages from sediment, and remained virtually uninhabited for centuries. Its primary industry, at least on the narrow Crimean side, is the production of salt from the Sivash lagoons that lie between it and the Crimean peninsula.