Crimea Votes to Secede: Western Powers and Ukraine Call Move Invalid

russian paramilitary solider in crimea

The results of a vote in Crimea surprised no one Sunday as it held in its referendum that it would secede from Ukraine — 96.77 percent of voters for the split. Mikhail Malyshev, the Crimean election spokesperson, said that 83.1 percent of those eligible to vote had done so on Sunday, and that a mere 2.51 percent voted against joining Russia, according to the Washington Post.

Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process, which would have no moral force,” said the Group of seven nations — U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada — in an EU statement last week. Crimean parliament declared quickly after the vote that the region is now an independent state, immediately asking that it be absorbed into the Russian Federation Monday. Both the West and Ukraine’s interim government have made statements labeling the vote illegitimate, and warning Russia against annexing Crimea.

Sunday, following the vote, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney¬†made a statement on behalf of the U.S., saying that, “The United States has steadfastly supported the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine since it declared its independence in 1991, and we reject the ‘referendum’ that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine.”

Carney¬†went on to say that the referendum goes against the Ukrainian constitution and that, “The international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law.” He notes that the Ukrainian government had made it it clear that Crimea could be given greater autonomy, and that the presidential vote for Ukraine as a whole would be upcoming on May 25. As such, the vote has no sway in Ukraine’s future and was unnecessary.

Russia is continuing to oppose Ukrainian and Western demands, with the Kremlin’s statement on the vote claiming that, “The referendum was organized in such a way as to guarantee Crimea’s population the possibility to freely express their will and exercise their right to self-determination.” It read on the Russian government’s read-out on Vladimir Putin’s phone conversation with President Barack Obama, which took place Sunday. “The current authorities in Kiev have so far failed to demonstrate the ability and desire to rein in the ultranationalist and radical group that are destabilizing the situation in the country and terrorising ordinary people, including the Russian-speaking population and Russia’s compatriots,” said the read-out.

Carney also emphasized the military presence within Ukraine, saying that, “Ukraine, the United States, the EU, the OSCE, the UN, and others have called for Russia to allow international monitors into the Crimean peninsula to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine are being upheld,” but that Russia has refused, and increased “military intervention” had begun a military exercise on the border. Now, the Ukrainian Parliament voted to approve a presidential decree from interim leader Oleksandr Turchynov that calls for 20,000 reservists to be pulled into the armed forces, with a second group of 20,000 pulled into a new national guard, according to the New York Times. However, military intervention will not supported or contributed to from Europe, whose leaders made clear that they “are not looking at military options here, this is not about a Crimean war,” as said by Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to the New York Times.

The United States, likewise, is more interested in sanctions and economic or political means of dealing with the situation, saying that Russia’s military intervention will result in “increasing costs for Russia” by way of “measures imposed by the United States and our allies.” The tilt of the language is not militaristic in its threats, a trend that political interests are starting to take note of.

There are no consequences when you defy what Obama’s telling you to do,” said Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to the New York Times. “You can bet the Chinese are watching our every move. They want to know where the limits are, or if there are any,” said one senior intelligence official the New York Times. Others have a different, more anti-involvement take on the matter. “There’s a lot of magical thinking going on that if we had gone to war in Syria, Vladimir Putin would have never gone into Crimea,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, to the New York Times. “That is fantasy. The United States went into Iraq, and it never stopped Putin from going into Georgia.”

The State Duma of Russia will be examining the annexation request by Friday, according to the Washington Post, and the Russian Foreign Ministry’s request for a “contact group” with insistence on a number of items for Ukraine’s future, including how it would be divided by regions, and subsequently taxed and financed, has been rejected.

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