Crimea is second Russian land grab this year
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Crimea is second Russian land grab this year

Tallinn : Estonia | Mar 24, 2014 at 3:26 AM PDT
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Placard depicting Russian President Putin is seen behind an EU flag during a rally by members of Czech Republic's Ukrainian community opposing Russian intervention in Crimea in Prague

Opinion

The Russian seizure of the Crimea is its second land grab this year. A small section of NATO member Estonia was taken in a little publicized redrawing the border between the two countries.

And it is at least the third such land grab under Russian Putin. Remember South Ossetia being detached from Georgia, and there was armed resistance there.

The Estonian action may have played a role in NATO commander Gen. Philip Breedlove saying troops needed to be dispatched to the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuanian and Estonia, all former Soviet Republics.

The annexation of Crimea has been described as the “smoothest invasion of modern times. It was over before the world the outside world realized it had started,” wrote John Simpson, BBC World Editor who saw it happening first hand.

Reuters reported an agreement was signed Feb. 18. But no details were released and the Estonia affair has gotten virtually no international publicity.

In the past Moscow could send tanks rolling into Hungary, Czechoslovia and other areas. Now they must be more discreet, except in far off and little known areas like Chechnya and Georgia.

When Western diplomats, joined by Chinese leaders, meet in the Hague on Monday they no doubt will hear calls for more help from the Baltic Republics, which have already increased military spending but will never be a match for Russia.

The Estonia Public Broadcasting news site news.err.ee reports “alarmist headlines say Estonia may be the next target for Russian aggression and land grabs.

“Sure, we've heard this before, and as a friend half-jokingly says, when you live in this part of the north, you keep a bag packed and a good pair of running shoes at the ready," the writer said.

The decision to make the border adjustments, which cost Estonia 2,600 square kilometers of the Seto region, were made in a private meeting between Estonian Foreign Minister Uramas Paet and Russian officials in Moscow.

The Estonia parliament still has the power to cancel the deal.

Social Democrat MP Inara Luigas said she will vote against the border change. The foreign minister made clear the deal was signed to make Russia happy, said the public broadcasting site.

The border arrangement would split the 15,000 Seto people.

All three Baltic Republics have refused to accept the Crimea annexation and will be attending Monday’s meeting in the Hague.

The events in Crimea were familiar to Estonians. What historians say was a sham election in 1940, conducted after the infiltration of Russian agents and military, resulted in Estonia asking to join the Soviet Union.

President Obama will be trying to rally support for stiffer sanctions against Russian and even seek support from China beyond its vague statements and abstention on an anti-Russian resolution before the UN Security Council.

Newly imposed sanctions continue to bite. Bloomberg reported they are pushing Russia to a recession.

Banks predict the world’s ninth-biggest economy will shrink for at least two quarters as penalties for annexing Crimea rattle markets, curb investment and raise the cost of borrowing.

Sources:

News.Err.EE

Al Jazeera

Guardian

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Woman holds a sign during a rally by members of Czech Republic's Ukrainian community opposing Russian intervention in Crimea at Wenceslas Square in Prague
Woman holds a sign during a rally by members of Czech Republic's Ukrainian community opposing Russian intervention in Crimea at Wenceslas Square in Prague
Robert Weller is based in Denver, Colorado, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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