The Crimea Crisis: Views from Moscow & Ukraine

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Pro-Kremlin activists rally in support of ethnic Russians in Ukraine's Crimea in St. Petersburg, March 2, 2014. The poster reads: 'We are with you Crimea!'
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The international community is on edge as the crisis between Ukraine and Russia continues to develop. Russia's takeover of the Crimean peninsula has put 16,000 troops in control of the region's security and administrative infrastructure.

Today Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the intervention in Crimea, saying that the crisis in Ukraine is the result of an "illegitimate" revolution instigated by nationalists, bringing forth an “unconstitutional coup” by protesters in Kiev. He added that Moscow's intervention in Crimea is necessary to protect Russian citizens living in the region.

But yesterday Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had some harsh words for Russian leaders.

“They tried to squeeze Ukrainian assets, they tried to confiscate Ukrainian property, they tried to disarm [the] Ukrainian army,” he said, referring to the Russian troops stationed in Crimea. “For these kinds of issues, they will be prosecuted under domestic and international law—and they have to know this.”

Meanwhile, U.S. officials had their own strongly-worded warnings for Putin's government. President Barack Obama warned yesterday that the takeover of the Crimean peninsula will be a "costly proposition." He pledged that American and Western allies would impose painful economic sanctions to "isolate" Russia if Moscow does not stand down.

“What cannot be done is for Russia with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles that are recognized around the world,” President Obama said yesterday from the Oval Office. “If in fact they continue on the current trajectory they’re on, then we are examining a whole series of steps—economic, diplomatic—that will isolate Russia and will have a negative impact on Russia’s economy and status in the world.”

Dmitry Babich, political analyst for the Voice of Russia Radio, explains the Crimean crisis from the view of Moscow and why Russia, under Putin's leadership, has staked out this position on Ukraine. Representing the Ukrainian-American perspective is Borys Potapenko, former president and current vice chair of the Ukrainian Congress Committee in Detroit.