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Russia, Turkey weigh options in Crimea

Does the Turkish response in Crimea foreshadow an opportunity or a challenge for Russian policy?
Armed men, believed to be Russian soldiers, assemble near an Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoe March 5, 2014. Ukraine's government said on Wednesday "Russian aggression" in Crimea was hitting the country's economy hard but signalled growing confidence that it will secure international loans and avoid bankruptcy. REUTERS/Thomas Peter (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - RTR3G2SD

If the Balkans were once the powder keg of Europe, it is now the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea that threatens to bring Europe, the United States and Russia to the brink of the second cold war. These days the analogies of the war of 1853-1856 are brought up quite often: Back then, the Russians hoped to deal an easy blow to the Ottomans but instead found themselves confronted by a coalition of the British and French empires and the Kingdom of Sardinia. Although direct parallels would be inaccurate, of about 16 wars fought between the Russian and Ottoman empires it was the battle over the Crimea that was a tremendous game changer in the European status quo and international system in general.

Indeed, the prospect of a complicated continuous standoff, or — God forbid — war, is worrisome. Although Turkey is not the main protagonist this time, it is the "gray cardinal" whose opinion is important to Moscow.

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