Oy. I haven't watched TV since last Friday, I guess - because I only watch Savik Shuster now - and I haven't been following the news in general lately, so now I'm kind of shocked to realize that there's so much going on, some really crazy stuff.
While we are experiencing a St. Petersburg kind of summer, they tell me it's 38C (100F) in Crimea. Must be a mistake. And the locals, instead of turning Crimea into a more tourist-friendly place, are protesting the presence of what they think are NATO troops (RFE/RL):
Feodosiya residents have blockaded the port, protesting what they see as an unwelcome NATO intrusion into Ukrainian territory.
The U.S. cargo ship "Advantage" anchored in Feodosiya on May 27, bringing what Ukrainian Defense Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko described as U.S. "technical aid." Seamen offloaded construction materials to build barracks for Ukrainian sailors at a training range near the town of Staryy Krym, not far from Feodosiya.
Two days later, Feodosiya residents, mobilized by local chapters of the pro-Russia Party of Regions, the Natalya Vitrenko Bloc, as well as the Russian Community of Crimea, began to picket the port. Displaying anti-NATO slogans written in Russian, they are continuing to block the U.S. cargo from getting to its destination. The BBC reported that several hundred people were present at the demonstration.
Here's a clarification from the U.S. embassy:
On June 1, a commercially chartered airplane arrived at the Simferopol airport, bringing a group of U.S. Marine reservists who are part of a construction and engineering unit invited to Ukraine by the Ukrainian government to assist with upgrading the Ukrainian training facility at Staryy Krym. They joined their colleagues who arrived on May 27 aboard the Advantage, a commercial cargo ship that, at the invitation of the Ukrainian government, entered the Crimean port of Feodosiya in Crimea and unloaded materials and equipment for the construction project.
There are currently approximately 200 reservists in Crimea. All have civilian jobs in the U.S. To maintain their proficiency, they leave these jobs for three weeks each year to fulfill their military commitment. Once this annual obligation is met they return to their civilian jobs in the U.S. The reservists who arrived this week are not involved in any military training exercise.
The construction unit is scheduled to build sanitary facilities and other basic amenities for use by the Ukrainian military. In addition to the materials they brought with them they plan to buy additional materials on the local market in Crimea, boosting the local economy. Any enhancements that are constructed as part of the visit would remain at the disposal of government of Ukraine for use by Ukrainian military units.
The reservists who arrived this week are anxious to begin the assistance work they were invited here to do. The U.S. Embassy is continuing to work with the Ukrainian government to clear the construction equipment from the port and to defuse tension caused by protests in Crimea.
There was also a fight at Dnipropetrovsk Regional Administration: pretty picturesque. The newly-elected folks are trying to choose the speaker.
(There was something else, but I have to get back to motherhood - Marta's hungry and sleepy! Sorry for being so anti-climactic.)