MOBILE, Ala. -An Associate Professor at the University of South Alabama gives her perspective on the growing crisis in the Ukraine and Crimea. Dr. Mara Kozelsky has spent a lot of time in the region. She understand the people and the problems they face. She says many are worried Crimea could become another Bosnia.
Dr. Kozelsky is an Associate Professor of European History at the University of South Alabama. She said the situation unfolding in the region is complex.
According to Dr. Kozelsky, about half of the people in the Ukraine consider themselves Russian and support Vladimir Putin.
She said the other half fear the Ukraine’s independence is threatened by what they consider Russian “aggression”.
Recent video from the region shows armed gunmen in unmarked military uniforms patrolling the streets, and they’ve raised a Russian flag over the Crimean parliament building.
“From the Crimeans point of view things have already deteriorated, and they have issued a state of emergency, and they have asked for U.N. Protection,” Dr. Kozelsky said.
Dr. Kozelsky who has written a book about the region, said the Crimean peninsula holds strategic military and historical interest for Russia. However, she said if Russia takes over Crimea one Muslim ethnic group could be threatened.
“As things escalate in Crimea, the Tatars who had looked to the Ukrainian state for their protection, and for support in gaining their former position may well wind up on the losing end of these armed forces that are illegally occupying the peninsula,” she said.
So, what role might the west play in dealing with the crisis?
“Hopefully, violence will settle down enough so that the people in Crimea and elsewhere in the Ukraine can hold the referendums that they would to do in order to determine which way to go, and perhaps the U.N. and the U.S. have a role in pressing to see that democracy is carried out,” she said.
Late Saturday President Obama made a personal call to Russian President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to de-escalate the tension in the Ukraine.