The explosive regional divide in Ukraine between the pro-European Union west and the pro-Russian east and Crimean regions that caused Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych to flee the country to Russia is only widening.
Over the past week, as events in Ukraine have intensified, the 1World community hotly debated who was responsible for the growing tensions in East Ukraine, Odessa and Crimea. According to the 1World survey, 56% thought that Russia was provoking the tension, 30% thought the new government and their rush to create new legislations was at fault, 8% thought people in these regions are overreacting, and 6% said they didn’t know who was at fault.
Vladimir Putin and Russia play a major factor in the development of the Ukrainian unrest and a push for Crimean independence from Ukraine is much more likely with Russia’s visible presence. Ukraine heavyweight and resistance leader, Vitali Klitschko, has given orders to mobilize troops against Russia, but one of the warships has already defected to the Russian side.
The remnants of the Ukrainian Parliament have demanded that Yanukovych and other government officials stand trial for their part in the mass killings of the protesters, but Yanukovych has denounced the protestors under the protection of Putin.
In voting since March 1, among 1World voters responding to the question, “What you think about Russian troops entering Ukraine?”, 34% said it was the right decision, 62% said they opposed the war, and 4% said they didn’t care.
And, in the past three weeks of voting, 41 percent said they believe the unrest in Ukraine would escalate into civil war, while 59 percent said they thought it would be avoided.
What does Russia have to gain from Crimean independence? The Crimean portion of Ukraine is hardly self-sufficient—most of its power and food come from the mainland and the region gets very little rainfall, which essentially makes the region a negative asset. A bid for Crimean independence would make certain that Crimea would ultimately fail and quite possibly annex to Russia.
Since Feb. 24, based on more than 2,700 votes, 68 percent of 1World voters said they Crimea remain a part of Ukraine, while a quarter say the region should separate with the change of government. Five percent said they didn’t know, and 2 percent said they didn’t care.
See the map for a look at how voters in Russia and Eastern Europe voted on the issue:
If Russia pushes further into Ukraine, it will only be to see how far they can go before any direct action is taken. Putin may be aggressive, but he is also smart, and he knows that none of the superpowers wants to begin a full-fledged military conflict. Unfortunately, Putin has a better poker face than the rest of the table at the G8.
After President Obama has failed to enforce multiple political ‘red lines’ in situations like Syria, the bark of the G8’s top dog has proven to be much worse than its bite. To top it off, United States troop morale is quite low after the deterioration of the political situation in Iraq, and the troops shuffling home from a long tour in Afghanistan probably weren’t looking forward to another urban warfare redeployment.
Regardless, someone needs to do something or we may face an age of neo-imperialism. If Russia manages to successfully annex Crimea without repercussion, it will bolster other nations to solve their territorial disputes without global oversight.