warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Crisis In Crimea—The New Battlefield In Ukraine

Taiu Kunimoto |
March 1, 2014 | 10:40 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

Tension rises as pro-Russian separatists clash with pro-Ukrainian Tartars
Tension rises as pro-Russian separatists clash with pro-Ukrainian Tartars
Almost a week has passed since the ousting of the former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Yet the pro-western nationalists’ declaration of victory in Kiev was soon followed by a series of new riots in Crimea, where the pro-Russian separatists clashed against the pro-Ukrainian Tatars for the region’s independence and the legitimacy of the interim government.

Wednesday, four days after the release of opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko and the overturn of President Yanukovych, separatists organized violent protests in Crimea’s regional capital of Simferopol. Two parties engaged in fist fights that reportedly injured at least 20 people.

Thursday, Russia sent some of its military jets to monitor its borders facing the region in dispute. Russia military provocation included a military exercise held by its fleets in the Black Sea.

On the same day, a group of 150 armed men arrived at the capital in trucks and stormed the Crimean parliament with force. Overnight, the Russian flag was hoisted on the parliament building as the gathered crowd roared for the independence from Ukraine and back to the Russian rule—“Crimea is Russia!”

According to BBC, U.S Secretary of State John Kerry called both sides to “step back and avoid any kind of provocations” on Friday. Kerry also held a phone conversation with the Russian foreign ministry Sergei Lavrov asking Moscow to “support Ukraine to rebuild unity, security and healthy economy.”

Lavrov relayed a message from President Vladimir Putin that “Russia would respect the integrity of Ukraine.”

EU, NATO and several Western leaders have expressed their concerns over the escalating tension in Crimea.

Ukraine is currently under the governance of an interim government that was approved by the parliament on Thursday with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk temporarily filling in as the man in charge. Yatsenyuk has voiced his condemnation against Russia’s active military involvement around the Crimean border and warned against Moscow's invasion of Ukraine's sovereignty.

Crimea is an autonomous region facing the Black Sea under the Ukrainian governance. Yet the region is pre-dominantly Russian. Unlike the Muslim natives Tartar, who are loyal to the Ukrainian government, the Russians seek to break its tie with Kiev and join the country of their ethnic origin.

The local Russians took advantage of the power vacuum created following the President Yanukovych’s dismissal and evolved the pro-Russian sentiment to separatism in the region. With Putin’s military influence rising across the border, the complexity and tension over the territorial dispute in Crimea has turned up a notch.

Read More at The Guardian


Follow Executive Producer Taiu Kunimoto on Twitter



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.