A Russian annexation of the Crimean port of Sebastopol in Ukraine could happen within a week, a former Kremlin adviser has warned.
Likening the situation to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria, Andrey Illarionov said a furious Russian president Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and putting troops on alert.
It came amid unconfirmed claims that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was under Russian military guard in Sebastopol, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for ‘mass murder’.
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The US government has warned the Russians to stay out of Ukraine, but it is not clear what the US could do to prevent Russia from taking over Crimea.
This area was part of Russia until the 1950s, and its population is mainly ethnic Russian. The Russian government could annex the area, but it is more likely to simply support independence of Crimea from Ukraine using protection of the Russian population as justification. It is unlikely that Ukraine could mount any real military opposition to this action.
A somewhat similar situation exists for a region called Transnistria, which is a part of Moldova that is effectively under Russian control.
What can or should the US do in response to Russia controlling parts of Ukraine?
NATO is a mutual defense treaty so, any attack on a member state would be an an attack on the US. Should NATO withdraw any consideration for membership if Ukraine ends up in border disputes with Russia or with break-away regions supported by Russia?
What are the implications for the US if Ukraine joins the EU with unresolved border issues?