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Thursday, February 27, 2014

What are the odds of the Crimea breaking away from Ukraine?

What are the odds of the Crimea breaking away from Ukraine?(RBTH).

There are two important factors to consider: the ethno-cultural, and the economic.

Crimea is the most Russian part of Ukraine. Its population is 58 percent ethnic Russian, 24 percent Ukrainian, and 12-per-cent Tatar. Russian is the mother tongue for three quarters of Crimeans. Only 10 per cent say their mother tongue is Ukrainian. According to the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 97 per cent of Crimeans speak Russian.

Crimea does not have an economic elite oriented towards Europe. Its economy was devastated over the years of Ukrainian independence. In the late 1990s Ukrainian oligarchs grabbed many of the most lucrative Crimean resorts, and even began to invest some money into them - but it was other people's money. That is why the Crimean elite does not have the kind of interests that make the Donetsk or Dnipropetrovsk-based elites so pliable when the EU or the USA put their pressure to bear.
For these two reasons, Crimea could not remain indifferent to what is going on in Kiev. The first reaction was anger, the second – demands to restore order.

Three possible scenarios.
The first scenario is that things will somehow settle down of their own accord. However, the only person that seems to believe this is President Yanukovych. The chances of that scenario coming to pass are slim.
The second scenario is that Crimea will receive even broader autonomy. This scenario will come to pass only if some degree of stability is restored - and that will only be possible if the parties agree to the federalization of Ukraine. But supporters of Ukrainian independence are afraid of federalization.
The third scenario is Crimea breaking off from Ukraine and becoming another “unrecognized state” under Russian protection. Kiev does not have the strength to prevent that, even if a functioning government is restored in the Ukrainian capital.
Ukraine does not have especially effective armed forces, and due to the crisis, it has next to no economic leverage remaining either. But such a scenario could trigger a conflict in Crimea itself - a conflict between the Crimean Tatars and ethnic Russians who inhabit the peninsula.Based on materials from Vzglyad.Read the full story here.

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