Reuters posted a video today that showed two rival protest groups clashing in the Crimean administrative capital of Simferopol.
The rhetoric coming from Moscow is worrisome. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that the protesters were “extremists” and that foreign governments were “imposing their will”. The rhetoric is even more significant as President Putin ordered a readiness test of Russian troops along the western border putting them on high alert.
History shows how Putin has responded to these situations in the past. In 2008 Putin threatened Georgia that if Russian citizens were threatened he would step in to defend them. The autonomous South Ossetia would be invaded and the short Russia/Georgian War would end with considerable casualties. Russian troops remain in South Ossetia to this day.
Crimea is over 60% Russian and holds a major Naval port for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. If Putin uses similar rhetoric as he did in 2008 it’s highly possible he could invade Crimea to “defend Russian citizens” and Russian property (Black Sea Fleet Naval facilities). Similar rhetoric could also be used to justify the invasion of the other eastern provinces that have a high amount of ethnic Russians.