USD professor: Ukraine situation will only escalate - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

USD professor: Ukraine situation will only escalate

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - Turmoil and controversy continues between Ukraine and Russia as the two governments work through the Crimean citizen's desire to declare their independence from the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine originally broke away from the Soviet Union, establishing their independence in 1991. But, political science experts say that ever since, there have been mutterings of political unrest in the area. "This was ripe for something to go horribly awry," Dr. Tim Schorn, director of the International Studies program at the University of South Dakota said.

Dr. Schorn says the turmoil of the last few weeks is evidence that a physical separation between Ukraine and the Soviet Union is all that ever occurred; the political separation was never fully there. "Ukraine, like some of those other independent countries, found itself with a significant Russian minority population. And the Russian minority population often times would have preferred to become a part of Russia," Dr. Schorn said.

Protests broke out when former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych backed out of signing an agreement with the European Union and chose Russia instead."He was assisted in that decision by a promise of aid from Russia," Dr. Schorn said. And then, Yanukovych fled from Kiev."I'm still confused as to why Yanukovych fled when he did, because there were no major security concerns for him," Dr. Schorn said.

On Sunday, Crimea's citizens took a vote on where the city's alliance would go. The government says 83% of voters turned out, and 96.7% of the citizens voted to leave Ukraine and annex into Russia.

However, the ballot gave citizens only two choices: total Crimean independence, or Crimea joining with Russia. The option to remain Ukrainian wasn't there. "While there appeared to have been no violence, and no overt intimidation, as people went to the polling places, you saw pro-Russian militia standing guard over the polling places," Dr. Schorn said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree acknowledging Crimea's independence. But, President Barack Obama and other world powers have condemned Sunday's vote, calling it illegal. Putin sent Russian military into Crimea, who have been peaceful so far, but some Ukrainian military are still there, loyal to their government, and Dr. Schorn says, "prisoners on their own bases."
"How forceful will the Russian military be in removing the Ukrainian military forces, and if it comes to that, will the Ukrainian military forces put up a fight?" Dr. Schorn says.

Until then, Dr. Schorn says at the very least, Vladimir Putin is on his way to diminishing the gains he made during the Olympics in establishing Russia as a world power.
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