10 Signs We Are Headed Into World War III
10An Unexpected Invasion
On February 27, 2014, Russian soldiers strapped on their marching boots and took over several airports in Crimea. As this is being written, roughly 6,000 Russian troops are moving across the Crimean peninsula and forcibly taking operational control of military bases, communications centers, and government buildings.
This is an invasion that has been a long time in the making, and it’s certainly not the first time Russia has made power plays in the Ukraine. Ever since 1783, Ukraine and Russia (for a time the Soviet Union) have played hot potato with Crimea, leaving a bubbling brew of split nationalism struggling to coexist on the little peninsula.
But the arrival of Russian troops is just the most recent step in a tumultuous few weeks for Ukraine. The country has seen its Russia-sympathizing president, Viktor Yanukovych, become a fugitive, a Russian citizen become the Crimean city of Sevastopol’s mayor, and an emergency meeting of Crimea’s parliament elect Sergey Aksyonov as the new Prime Minister of Crimea—at gunpoint. Aksyonov has declared that he will follow orders from the ousted Yanukovych, who is currently seeking refuge in Russia. The country’s politics are in tatters.
9The Ukrainian Conflict Is Reaching A Boiling Point
Ukrainian nationalists are calling Putin’s invasion an act of war; Russians in Ukraine are calling it an act of salvation. Riots are flaring up all across the country as the two dominant political forces come to a head. This video shows two men being beaten by a pro-Russian mob in Kharkiv, the USSR’s Bolshevik-run capital leading up to World War II—and that’s where Putin’s army looks headed next.
You can get a pretty clear view of the political alliances of Ukraine with the above map, which shows the results of the 2010 election. Blue represents areas that supported Viktor Yanukovych, so you can consider those regions comparatively pro-Russian. The purple areas voted for an opposing candidate, Yulia Tymoshenko. The darker the color, the stronger the support. Kharkiv and Donetsk are firmly in the blue, and represent two major Ukrainian cities with a strong industrial infrastructure—and both are historically Russian.
This is a group of very assertive, very nationalistic people at arms over the one issue that holds paramount importance: heritage. And historically, gray areas are reserved for the losers; it’s the inflexible, dyed-in-the-wool believers in a cause who triumph in a conflict. Russia sees this as good news, picturing much support from the country they’re invading. As one Ukrainian bitterly put it, “No one asked us. We are like puppets for them. We have one Tsar and one god—Putin.”
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