Night Watch

Russia: In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Russia's Foreign Ministry cited Kosovo's secession from Serbia as the precedent for Crimea's secession from Ukraine. "The Russian Federation will respect the results of the free vote of Crimea's people during the referendum."

Comment: Today's statement is the first to refer to Western action to secure the secession of Kosovo as the precedent for Russian action to secure the secession of Crimea, after Sunday's referendum.

The Russians consider that the US and the Europeans have no moral high ground when it comes to fracturing eastern European states. Russian memories are long.

Ukraine: The Ukraine government said it needs to rebuild the armed forces. In parliament, the acting defense minister said that of some 41,000 infantry mobilized last week, Ukraine could field only about 6,000 combat-ready troops, compared to over 200,000 Russians deployed on the country's eastern borders.

The prime minister said the air force was outnumbered 100 to one. Ukraine needs to establish a new National Guard to protect the country and its population, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said. Ukrainian security authorities said 30,000 Russian military personnel are in Crimea now.

Comment: The disparity in capabilities and manpower between Ukraine and Russia is almost comical. Russian forces in the western district could overrun as much of Ukraine as they choose and would likely encounter no conventional military opposition.

The worrisome development in the past two days is that Russian media seem to be exaggerating the extent of lawlessness and of right-wing harassment of Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. The trend in Russian media appears to justify, if not encourage, Russia in sending troops to protect other districts of Ukraine, in addition to Crimea.

Crimea: Crimean authorities invited European observers to monitor Sunday's referendum. Crimean lawmakers on 11 March also adopted a declaration of independence, Interfax reported.

Comment: The declaration of independence indicates the Crimeans finally figured out the sequence of action required for a plausible secession. As Texas did before it joined the United States, Crimea will declare independence and then apply to join the Russian federation.

Night Watch

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