November 01, 2008

Post-Soviet Dominoes?

After Russia’s September war with Georgia, all eyes have turned to other border states where friction with Russia runs high. At the top of the list is Ukraine.

The two countries were close allies before 2004. Yet the Orange Revolution, large Russian populations in Eastern Ukraine (see map), the looming departure of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from the Crimean Peninsula, and Ukraine’s active interest in NATO membership have combined with the Georgian War to bring relations to a new low. 

The AP reported that Ukrainian officials warned Russia in late September not to encourage separatist groups in Ukraine. A spokesman for the Ukrainian Security Service accused Russia of supporting extremists in the breakaway regions of Georgia and Moldova‘s Transdniester region. The Ukrainian government apparently fears that Russia would not be averse to a secession scenario for Crimea. Officials have accused the Russian government of handing out Russian passports on the peninsula, as happened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the years before the Georgian War. 

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