A dangerous game is being played out in Ukraine, the second-biggest country in Europe. A revolution of sorts has toppled the pro-Russian government of former President Viktor Yanukovych, which in turn has brought on Russian military “exercises” involving some 150,000 troops, some near the Ukrainian frontier, while Russian jet fighters have begun to patrol the Ukrainian-Russian border. This, in turn, has caused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to warn Russian President Vladimir Putin not to view the current situation as part of some East-West clash from the days of the Cold War. “Any kind of military intervention would be a grave mistake,” Kerry said.
The situation has been made worse in recent days with clashes between Russians in the Crimea, who make up some 58 percent of the population, and Muslim Tatars, who make up about 12 percent of the country. Ethnic Ukrainians make up about 24 percent. Pro-Russia elements in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, seized control of the parliament building to enforce their demands that Crimea reject the new government in Kiev and perhaps revert to being part of Russia itself. Pro-Russian crowds have been confronted by pro-Kiev Tatars in an ugly standoff that Kiev fears could lead to armed conflict.