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2008/oct/12

Moscow’s main aim is to wrest the Crimean Peninsula from Kiev’s control. A majority of the Crimea’s inhabitants are ethnic Russians. More importantly, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol. Under a 1997 agreement between the two countries, the Russian navy is scheduled to leave by 2017. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko refuses to extend the lease - rightly fearing Moscow plans to stay on indefinitely and eventually annex the entire Crimea. Russian officials have already said they will not abandon the base at Sevastopol and that Kiev’s maritime laws do not apply to them.

Moreover, Russia has been distributing thousands of Russian passports to supporters in the Crimea. The plan is to replicate what was done in South Ossetia and Abkhazia: Create a pretext to send in Russian “peacekeepers” to protect supposedly endangered Russian “citizens.”


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