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Crimeans voted on Sunday on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum that has alarmed the ex-Soviet republic and triggered the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

From Euro news

I wonder whether the words "ex Soviet republic" refer to Russia or Crimea or Ukraine or Kiev.

I also wonder what "alarm" mean.

My try is :

The referendum has scared the Crimea that had been a ex part of ex Soviet republic.

Other Possible interpratation:

The referendum has caused a potential fear in Russia (that is ex Soviet republic)

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    Please note that in English a space never follows an opening " or ( and never precedes a closing " or ). You may set off your quotations in indented blocks by placing a > before each new paragraph and ending each paragraph with two spaces before your CR. And you may boldface a passage by placing ** immediately before and after it. – StoneyB Mar 16 '14 at 16:10
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As you observe, ex-Soviet republic is ambiguous: it might refer either to Ukraine or Russia or Crimea.

(It cannot, however, refer to Kiev, which is a city—unless Kiev stands metonymically for Ukraine.)

I think it almost certain, however, that Ukraine is meant.

  • In the first place, neither Russia nor Crimea is likely to be alarmed by the referendum; they are the entities who support the referendum.
  • In the second place, I doubt even Euronews’ experts think of Crimea as a distinct ‘republic’. In the Soviet era Crimea was a different sort of entity than Russia or Ukraine: an Autonomous Republic, a sort of sub-republic of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic which was in 1954 ’transferred‘ to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
  • And in the third place I doubt anybody would characterize Russia as an ‘ex-Soviet republic’. Russia is not merely a former substate of the USSR, it is the successor state to the USSR, which itself was the successor state to the Russian Empire.

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