A U.N. special envoy was forced to abandon a mission to Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region on Wednesday after being detained and besieged inside a cafe by a hostile crowd shouting "Russia! Russia!" Dutch diplomat Robert Serry flew to Istanbul after the incident and, according to the United Nations, would head from there back to Kiev.
Remember the Sochi Olympics? Yeah. Me, neither. There’s been so much focus on Ukraine, we almost forget that just a short time ago we were talking about the “twizzles” of ice dancing. Those were good times. The Sochi Olympics were widely considered a success. They helped introduce a new image of Russia to the world.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev on Tuesday to show support and solidarity with former opposition leaders prepping for a military standoff with Russia. Kerry pledged $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees to Ukraine’s anti-Russian leadership, and had talks with Ukrainian officials to prepare the nation for elections and transition.
Russia invaded Ukraine over the weekend, justifying its incursion by claming it needed to protect Crimea’s ethnic Russian population from supposed neo-Nazi extremists. This was pure propaganda, of course—Vladmir Putin has been keen to annex land that used to be part of Russia, as he did in Georgia in 2008, and seems to think that the Ukrainian army will and should immediately surrender to the Russian one.
Turkey will do everything possible for the Crimea to remain part of Ukraine, according to the Head of the Turkish Foreign Ministry Ahmet Davutoglu. "Turkey will make every effort to secure Crimea’s future within Ukraine’s territorial integrity," he wrote on Twitter.
A little more than a week after the Ukrainian Parliament ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and Putin's Winter Olympics in Sochi came to an end, Russian troops are now in control over Crimea, a chunk of Ukraine a bit larger than Vermont. Russian troops are consolidating their hold on the region, and Ukraine's still-shaky interim government is trying to organize a coherent response.
President Obama's diplomatic effort to head off a violent breakup of Ukraine ran aground Saturday as a top U.N. envoy was blocked from a peace mission to the disputed region of Crimea and Russia's parliament, or Duma, approved a request by Russian President Vladimir Putin to send military forces to Ukraine in support of pro-Russian Ukrainians.
My previous article on what Russia was likely to do in Ukraine described the costs of a Russian attempt at territorial aggrandizement. The title and subtitle were picked by the editors; my read on the situation did not give me certainty that Russia wouldn’t invade Crimea, and indeed I argued that an invasion was likely if there was violence against ethnic Russians there (which is why I urged the Ukrainian government not to rise to the bait by permitting or encouraging anti-Russian violence in Crimea).