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Ukraine's Crimea: How likely is a Russian invasion?

Published on Feb 27, 2014 11:37 PM

KIEV (AFP) - Mounting separatist tensions in Ukraine's Russian-speaking Crimea peninsula have reached dangerous levels and could lead to fresh domestic turmoil or even spark an outright invasion by giant neighbour Russia, analysts say.

On Thursday, pro-Moscow gunmen seized control of the parliament and government headquarters in the regional capital Simferopol, sparking warnings from Ukraine's interim leader that any troop movements at Russia's Black Sea fleet - based in Crimea - would be seen as "military aggression".

While some Ukraine watchers say war is unlikely, others see similarities in the unrest currently sweeping Crimea and the situation in Georgia in 2008, when Russia fought a brief armed conflict with Tbilisi over the breakaway of the Moscow-backed Georgian region of South Ossetia.

"There is a serious danger," said Mr Andreas Umland, a Kiev-based political analyst at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

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