|Crimean Tartar Muslim Leader Refat Chubarov|
Crimea is strategically important to Russia. Russian Navy has a large naval base at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. It helps Russia project its power in the Mediterranean Sea. A substantial amount of Russian natural gas exports flow through Crimea and other parts of Ukraine via pipelines to Western Europe.
|European Dependence on Russian Gas|
Here's an except of a New York Times story on Tartar Muslims in Crimea:
"The minority Tatars, however, have little love for Moscow after being deported en masse by Joseph Stalin and, now back in their homeland, want to carve out their own space inside Ukraine. “We have a long memory of what Russia did to us Tatars,” Refat Chubarov, a member of the Crimean Legislature and a Tatar community leader. Pro-Moscow members of the assembly, furious at the cancellation of an extraordinary session they had called to discuss a response to events in the capital, accused Mr. Chubarov of using a mob to derail democracy. Most people on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine divide have no interest in violent confrontation, but small militant groups have been increasingly active in trying to rally people for battle. In Sevastopol, Crimea’s biggest city, pro-Russian groups have been signing up residents for so-called “self-defense” units while hard-line Cossack organizations, recalling past campaigns to expand and secure Russia’s borders, denounced politicians who call for calm as cowards. A small number of militant Tatars, encouraged by extremists abroad, have tried over the years to recruit Crimea’s Muslims for jihad, but their efforts have fallen flat. Any move to restore Crimea to Russian rule, however, would risk breathing life into such calls for extremism".
Russia has offered evidence of western intervention in recent days in the Maidan uprising in Kiev. It has released a voice recording of a telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador in Kiev discussing the composition of future government of Ukraine while pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was still in charge as the pro-West protests raged against his government.
In response to the installation of a new pro-West interim government in Kieve, President Vladimir Putin of Russia has ordered massive military exercises close to the Ukrainian border as a warning to the West to stop interfereing. US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Russia not to intervene in Ukraine. The situation is very tense. Putin could complicate US efforts in Iran nuclear talks and resolution of Syrian crisis in response to US intervention in Ukraine.
US and EU need to tread very carefully in Ukraine which Russia sees as its backyard. Any missteps could lead to a larger international crisis far beyond Europe.
Putin Challenges US Exceptionalism
Hui Muslims in China
Turkish Soaps in Pakistan
Muslims Demographics in West
Soviet Defeat in Afghanistan
US Dollar is Global Currency