Wikistrat recently concluded a brainstorming session in which analysts were asked to propose major news stories for 2014. Written in the form of a newspaper report, the following scenario suggests an ethnic Russian separatist movement could rise in eastern Ukraine.
KIEV (October 2) — The United States condemned on Thursday what it described as Russia’s “manipulation of nationalist sentiment to promote its own interests” in Ukraine. Last week, Russia called for a referendum about the future status of the Crimea, a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea that hosts a Russian naval base.
Russia has seized on Crimean nationalists’ demand to reverse the 1954 incorporation of the territory into Ukraine. It says it supports the ethnic Russian population’s right to self-determination.
A spokesman for President Barack Obama rejected this interpretation and argued Russia’s interference in the territorial dispute was one of “naked self-interest.”
Russia has lost considerable influence in Ukraine since the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych and his government in April after months of demonstrations in Kiev and other major cities. Elections this summer that were monitored by the European Union produced a coalition in favor of deepening political and trade relations with the bloc at the expense of its ties with Russia.
The subsequent loss of economic support from its former Soviet master raised fears among Ukraine’s ethnic Russian population about domination from western Ukraine and strengthened local support for secession in the Crimea.
Wikistrat Analysts Michael Moreland, Shaun Riordan and Larry White contributed to this scenario.