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The Russian Bear, On the Move

With the Olympics over, Vladimir Putin has Russia on the march. Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych has surfaced in Russia, where he has been given asylum. In Crimea–a part of Ukraine–armed men have seized the Parliament building and hoisted the Russian flag:

The buildings of the Crimean Council of Ministers and the Crimean parliament were seized by an unknown group of 120 armed men at around 4 a.m., according to Crimea Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilyov, the nation’s former prime minister and a longtime loyalist of ousted President Viktor Yanukovch. Mogilyov and UDAR party lawmaker Serhiy Kunitsyn said the men were professionally trained individuals with automatic weapons.

“More than 120 armed men entered the Crimean Supreme Council and the Crimean government. These professionally trained people are armed. They brought weapons – automatic weapons, grenade launchers, and machine guns,” Kunitsyn said….

Mustafa Jemilov, former head of the Mejilis of the Crimean Tatar people, said in Ukraine’s parliament on Feb. 27 that the men occupying the crimean government buildings “came by buses from Sevastopol.”

“There are reports of movement of armed vehicles from the Russian fleet in different directions,” he said. “We also got signals that in many hotels there are Russian soldiers in civilian clothes. This all is very alarming.” …

Jemilov believes the group of armed men come from one of two camps: “either they are Russian soldiers, or former Berkut soldiers who with allegiances to Russia.”

Putin, meanwhile, warned that Russia is “prepared to defend the rights of its compatriots”–by which he apparently meant ethnic Russians in Ukraine–”and would react appropriately to any violation of them.”

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In Havana, a Russian intelligence ship has suddenly appeared in the harbor:

A Russian warship docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Cuba or the Russian government.

The State Department did not immediately respond to TheBlaze’s request for comment, and a Defense Department spokesman said this was “the first he was hearing of it,” but was looking into the matter.

That’s reassuring.

The Meridian-class intelligence ship is packed with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry, including AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles, according to the Daily Mail.

The Viktor Leonov in Havana

The Viktor Leonov in Havana

Russia openly states that it is looking for homes for new bases so that it can expand its military reach. The Moscow Times explains:

The Defense Ministry plans to expand its military presence to several key regions outside Russia in an effort to increase its long-range bomber coverage.

The Russians deserve credit for candor, I suppose.

“We need bases for refueling [our aircraft] near the equator, and in other places,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, adding that negotiations are close to producing a result, Itar-Tass reported Wednesday.

Talks are underway with Seychelles, Singapore, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, Shoigu said. This would extend Russian bomber coverage throughout several key strategic areas in the Southern hemisphere and along the equator, a significant expansion of Russia’s historical and existing range.

While Russia is working on securing bases in far off locales, it has also been beefing up its military presence in the post-Soviet sphere.

As America retreats around the world, Russia moves to fill the vacuum. But don’t worry: John Kerry has the global warming situation totally under control.

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