Western Sanctions Mount as Russia Invades Crimea Further

russian paramilitary solider in crimea

Russian troops invaded Crimea prior to the region’s referendum on joining Russia — an annexation voted for by a large majority, but arguably while under military occupation — and eventually further military moves were made on Sevastopol, an important naval headquarter and Crimean port. Now Russian troops have invaded one of the last functioning military bases in Crimea, a marine base in port city of Feodosia. Reports say that the invasion saw shots fired from Russia troops and use of stun grenades in order to get inside, noting that Russia soldiers were unarmed. “The invading troops were using stun grenades and also firing automatic weapons.The interior of the compound is full of Russian troops,” said Vladislav Seleznyov, Ukrainian military spokesperson in Crimea, to Reuters. 

Both Ukraine and the West have denied the legitimacy of Crimea’s vote to join Russia, though Ukraine had offered the region greater autonomy within the country prior to the region’s decision. Russia voted to annex Crimea as of March 21, and in a speech at the red square, Russian President Vladimir Putin said to his fellow citizens that, “We have done a lot together, but we will do much more.” According to Reuter’s footage, he said,”We will need to solve many tasks, but I know I’m confident that we will overcome everything, resolve everything because we are together. Glory to Russia!”

Ukrainian troops have been told to evacuate according to a spokesperson for the interim Ukrainian President, Oleksandr Turchynov. “The acting President of Ukraine has given an order to the Ukraine Defense Ministry for the withdrawal of all Ukrainian forces from Crimea,” she said to CNN.

I signed a new executive order today that gives us the authority to impose sanctions not just on individuals but on key sectors of the Russian economy. This is not our preferred outcome. These sanctions would not only have a significant impact on Russian economy, but could also be disruptive to the global economy,” said President Barack Obama, in a statement Thursday. The threat isn’t a false one, according to Bloomberg, which reports the sanctions may be inching Russia closer to a recession.

We’re witnessing the start of a new geopolitical and economic Cold War and I think it will take at least two to three years to establish some sort of equilibrium,” said Mircea Geoana, the Romanian government representative for diplomacy and economic projects, to Bloomberg. “The ones who’ll pay the bill for this aggression, no matter how popular and patriotic it looks, will be the Russian people because there’s a huge difference between the economic force of the EU and the U.S. and that of Russia.”

Others, such as Ariel Cohen, senior fellow at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington, told Bloomberg that, “You’re dealing with an individual [Putin] who won’t be easily intimidated. The West is escalating sanctions but Russia isn’t going to back off on Crimea and Ukraine that easily. It will take more than pinpointed individual sanctions to start rolling this back.”

“Americas support for our NATO allies is unwavering,” said Obama on Thursday, adding that, “We’re bound together by our profound Article 5 commitment to defend one another, and by a set of shared values that so many generations sacrificed for. We’ve already increased our support for our Eastern European allies, and we will continue to strengthen NATO’s collective defense, and we will set up our cooperation with Europe on economic and energy issues as well.”

Other members of NATO have voiced serious concerns about dealing with Russia going forward. “The [Russian] force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizable and very, very ready,” said NATO’s top military commander, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove, to CNN. “Russia is acting much more like an adversary than a partner,” he said.

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