Pro-Russian protesters have stormed government buildings in three eastern Ukrainian cities. In Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv they clashed with police, hung Russian flags from the buildings and called for a referendum on independence. Ukraine's acting president called an emergency security meeting in response.
McDonald's has suspended work at its three Crimean restaurants following ongoing diplomatic tensions in the region. The company said that it would try to support staff, and hopes to re-open its restaurants as soon as possible. The firm is the second in the Crimea to alter its operations after heightened tensions between Russia and the west.
A recording has surfaced online purporting to be a leaked conversation between two Russian ambassadors discussing which parts of the world they would like to annex after Crimea.
The Crimean crisis hits close to home – very close for many in Sacramento, home to one of the largest Ukrainian diaspora communities in the United States. While targeted sanctions against Russia are about to kick in and the tense situation throughout Ukraine remains unpredictable, American policies going forward are likely to be influenced by Ukrainian nationals over time, even after the story fades from current news cycles.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on dozens of high-ranking Russians in retaliation for Moscow's seizure and annexation of Crimea. The idea, of course, is that imposing asset freezes and visa bans on these individuals will make them think twice when contemplating, say, further military moves against the rest of Ukraine.
Halfway through an otherwise coherent conversation with a Georgian lawyer last week—the topics included judges, the court system, the police—I was startled by a comment he made about his country’s former government, led by ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili. “They were LGBT,” he said, conspiratorially.
Moscow has no intention of sending troops into Ukraine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said. His comments came after the US and Russian presidents discussed a possible diplomatic solution to the crisis. The US-backed plan calls for Russia to halt to its military build-up on the border with Ukraine and withdraw its troops in Crimea to their bases.
Earlier this week, Barack Obama again rejected Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign claim that Russia is America’s biggest “geopolitical foe.” In fact, Obama said, Russia is a regional power acting out of “weakness,” adding that he worries more about a mushroom cloud over New York City than he does about Vladimir Putin.