Rising tensions over Crimea spark fears of separatism in Ukraine

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Rising tensions over Crimea spark fears of separatism in Ukraine

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Sevastopol, the Ukrainian town in Crimea where Russia operates a military base is now a political hot potato between the two countries.

Russian links run deep here and many oppose the pro-EU Maidan wave that toppled Viktor Yanukovych.

Moscow is debating the fasttracking of Russian citizenship for Crimeans and other ethnic Russians in Ukraine, sparking fears in Kyiv of separatism.

But Sergey Aksionov from the Russian Unity Party downplayed fears of Russian control:

“Russia is not trying to use hard power in order to influence the situation in Ukraine. It is not willing to violate the sovereignty of Ukraine and it is not about to make any territorial claim, but at the same time Russia is ready to help its compatriots who might be in trouble”

Muslim Tatars are the original Crimeans, but now form the minority. History makes them wary of Russia.

Refat Chubarov from the Crimean Tatar People told euronews:

“Many Russians settled here after the deportation of Crimean Tatars and they still feel not just ethnically Russian, but that they belong spiritually to the Russian state. And this explains their deep desire to be with Russia and to be included in the Russian state”.

For now, the only thing that is clear is that tensions are rising.

International observers have stressed that Ukraine shouldn’t become a new battleground between east and west.