Crimea to Vote on Secession: Russia and Ukraine at Odds

vladimir putin

Russia’s military and political interference in Ukraine resulted in American sanctions this week, with President Barack Obama signing an executive order to more effectively isolate Russia in retaliation for their invasion of the Crimean region. Now, Russia’s Parliament has announced Friday that it would approve of a vote in Crimea to decide whether or not its citizens want to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation, according to the New York Times. Russia’s Upper House Chair, Valentina I. Matviyenko, compared the maneuver to that of Scotland’s referendum on independence from Britain, according to the Times — omitting the slight caveat that the British government had approved the potential split, unlike Ukraine in the present scenario.

Ukraine’s opposition government is anything but on board with such a move, with the interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk having told Crimea’s parliament that it will not consider such a referendum legitimate, according to BBC. He said Friday that Ukraine would be willing to speak with Russia on the condition that Russia remove its troops from Ukraine and remain in-line with international agreements. At present, Crimea has a new, emergency instated pro-Russia governance, which refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of Kiev’s interim government, just as Ukraine opposition leadership refuses to acknowledge Crimea’s Russia leadership. Yatsenyuk said to the “separatist and other traitors of the Ukrainian state,” on Friday that, “Any decision of yours is deliberately unlawful and unconstitutional and no one in the civilized world will recognize the decision of the so-called referendum of the so-called Crimean authorities.”

We’ve made clear that it is an absolute clear-cut violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity to take the steps that Russia has taken, and that’s why we urge Russia to very quickly and immediately begin a dialogue with the government of Ukraine,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a press gaggle on Thursday. “Pull back Russia’s military forces to their bases, restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and allow for the urgent deployment of observers and human rights monitors.”

Ukraine position internationally is complicated by its financial situation, with debt and steep infrastructure needs demanding a hefty monetary investment. Both the European Union and U.S. have recently promised contributions that will offer aid, the former more so than the latter, with the EU pledging approximately $15 billion in loans and grants, and the United States offering $1 billion.

There are a number of other measures through which we are ready to support Ukraine … one of them in energy, where we are looking in the short-term at the gas transmission network to ensure that reverse flows with the European Union are fully operation,” said Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, the President of the European Commission, in a statement on the loan. “I believe we are going to be up to this very important challenge for Ukraine and for Europe as a whole,” he said. The issue of gas is a major one for Europe, when it considers the political and economic conditions in Ukraine, and undoubtedly will affect it’s international policy going forward.

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