A Muslim minority loyal to Ukraine bears the brunt of Russia’s crackdown in Crimea

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There have been several attacks on Russian targets in Crimea. Ukraine has never claimed them, but Kyiv also has sound military reasons to try to ensure that the peninsula can’t function as a site to launch operations against Ukrainian forces and civilians now and in the future, according to Neil Melvin, the director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank. But he cautioned that an assault on Crimea would “likely lead to major casualties for Ukraine,” and “Ukrainian forces would be attacking in a region where significant parts of the civilian population are sympathetic to Russia.” They might actively resist “and turn on groups there loyal to Kyiv, for example elements of the Crimean Tatar community, leading to ethnic cleansing,” he said.