World View: Russia Masses Troops on Ukraine Border as Ethnic Russians and Tatars Clash

This morning's key headlines from
  • Ukraine's ethnic Russians and Tatars clash in Crimea
  • Russia masses 150,000 troops on border with Ukraine
  • Hezbollah vows retaliation for Israel's air strike in Lebanon
  • Nigeria asks France for help in dealing with Boko Haram terrorists

Ukraine's ethnic Russians and Tatars clash in Crimea

Long-dormant World War II hatreds came alive again Wednesday, when ethnic Russians clashed with ethnic Tatars outside of Crimea's parliament building in Simferopol in southern Ukraine. Thousands of Tatars demonstrated in front of the Crimean parliament Wednesday to block deputies from passing any legislation that would support the separation of Crimea from Ukraine. According to one Tatar activist:

We warned them not to arrange a [parliamentary] session. Do not explode the situation in the Crimea. We know they need that session to tear Crimea from Ukraine. We warned that the Crimean Tatars will not allow this to happen.

As the Tatars chanted "Ukraine" and "Motherland! Crimea! People!", pro-Russia demonstrators gathered, shouting "Crimea is Russia!" According to one pro-Russia activist:

We are here to defend ourselves from those western Ukrainians, who think they can decide our future here in Crimea. They never asked us what we wanted. We've spoken Russian for 200 years here, and we're not going to start speaking that Ukrainian. It's not even a real language, it's a dialect.

Russia's then-dictator Josef Stalin, who had already engineered the massive famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, in 1944 deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea, where they had lived for millennia, to central Asia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers to Crimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union and Ukraine's independence. However, the bitter feelings between the Russians and the Tatars still remain and could spiral into a bloody confrontation. Ria Novosti and CS Monitor

Russia masses 150,000 troops on border with Ukraine

Russia's president Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered war games involving 150,000 troops along the border with Ukraine. This followed several days of activities as trucks full of armed Russian troops arrived at the Black Sea port of Yalta and armored personnel carriers arrived at Sevastopol. Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow was "carefully watching what is happening in Crimea." He claimed that no invasion of Ukraine was planned, but also said:

The commander-in-chief [Vladimir Putin] has set the task of checking the capability of the armed forces to deal with crisis situations posing a threat to the military security of the country.

The United States warned Russia against interference in the crisis, saying military intervention by Moscow would be a "grave mistake." Ria Novosti and Washington Times and Telegraph (London)

Hezbollah vows retaliation for Israel's air strike in Lebanon

Lebanon's Iran-backed terror group Hezbollah vowed to "choose the appropriate time, place and method of response" to retaliate against Israel for an air strike Monday. The target of the air strike is unknown, though Hezbollah claimed that "no one was martyred or wounded," and there was only "material damage." However, some security sources say that the strike hit two trucks transporting missiles and a missile launcher into Lebanon and that four Hezbollah members were killed. Israeli defense officials are expecting Hezbollah to target senior Israeli figures in the future, in retaliation for Monday’s air strike. Daily Star (Beirut)

Nigeria asks France for help in dealing with Boko Haram terrorists

France, which already has thousands of peacekeeping troops in former colonies Mali and Central African Republic, is now being asked to help another former colony, Nigeria, deal with the growing threat by the jihadist terror group Boko Haram ("Western education is forbidden"). The request was triggered by a horrific terror attack on a school in northeastern Nigeria on Tuesday in which 29 boys were killed, and the girls were told to go home, get married, and abandon Western education. There had been soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the government school, but they were mysteriously withdrawn hours before the attack, leaving the terrorists to continue their massacre for five hours with no troops or security agents intervening. Nigeria's government also asked for help from neighboring Cameroon, saying that the terrorists hide out in Cameroon. Nigeria Bulletin and Oman Observer

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