Reuters

What everyday life is like in Simferopol, Crimea's divided capital.

This week, all eyes are on Simferopol, a Ukrainian city nestled in Crimea.

Protests erupted in the city after Ukraine's former president Viktor Yanukovych abandoned his post and fled the country. Ostensibly, the protests were made up of pro-Russian Ukranians, unhappy with the new, Euro-centric government in place in Kiev.

But the reality is murkier. Though Russia has denied it, experts say the country has sent troops. The end goal is unclear (perhaps, even, to Putin), but it's clear a Russian power play's afoot. As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's on-the-ground reporters explain:

Perevalne is one of several strategic Crimean sites that Russian troops have encircled, effectively taking control of the Black Sea peninsula. At the base, the two sides are locked in a standoff, with Russia demanding the Ukrainian troops give up their weapons. The Ukrainians are refusing.

“We’re not playing checkers here. There's been no suggestion of giving up,” says a Ukrainian lieutenant colonel. “There was a proposal that we give up our weapons, but we have a military chain of command and there has been no command or instruction to give up our weapons.” The fragile peace could be torn apart by a single gunshot. And yet on the ground, the situation also has the feel of theater—and more than a touch of the absurd.

Judging from the newscasts, Crimeans are unified in their opposition to Ukraine's new government. That's not the case. RFE/RL spoke with a group of anti-war protesters and to the area's Tatar's, an ethnic minority who have faced prosecution in the past. Both support Ukraine's government.

These groups are at odds with the pro-Russian supporters demonstrating outside government buildings.

Read more at The Atlantic.

About the Author

Amanda Erickson

Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab. 

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