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Tensions in Eastern Ukraine have been on edge since 2013 when trouble started in the Crimean Peninsula resulting in the Annexation of the region by Russia in March of 2014. The Ukrainian separatists ambitiondid not stop there however, and with the support of Russia the area commonly known as the DonBass (Basin of the lower Don River) erupted into civil war through the summer of 2014. This conflict was backed by Russian Regular Army troops ‘vacationing’ in the region, followed by an intervention by the Russian 76th Guards Air Assault Division and other Russian forces. A cease fire put a temporary halt to the fighting at the end of August 2014 but Russian troop movements and occupation of the DonBass did not end. Separatists in the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts continued to receive material and military support from Russia through 2015 and well into 2016. President Putin of Russia calls the area Novorossiya in reference to a 1900’s era region called ‘New Russia’ which stretches along the Black Sea coast to the borders of Moldova and the disputed area of Transnistria.
Moldova is a struggling democratic republic suffering from split demographics, chronic corruption, and a political landscape torn between hard line Communist who sympathise with Russia, and Liberal Democrats who wish to foster ties with the West, all complicated by a significant Ukrainian population. The area of Transnistria rests on the east side of the Dniester River bordering the Ukraine. The population of this small area, which is evenly split between ethnic Moldovans, Russians and Ukrainians has ignited into varies succession movements striving either to become independent, join with the Ukraine or re-join Russia. A cease fire was put in place in July 92 but dissent, negotiation and discontent continue today.
Russia is nothing if not opportunistic. It sees NATO as fragmented and weak, the US embroiled into a bitter election campaign, and the European Union in crisis because of constitutional challenges, and the ongoing Syrian Refugee crisis. Perhaps now is the time to make Novorossiya a reality! What better time than when Americans are busy exercising their democratic freedom – election day 2016.