Earlier today (3/6/2014), the parliament of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula in the Black Sea at the center of the current situation with Russia, voted to secede from Ukraine to become part of Russia.
The issue will be put to a referendum in 10 days, when the citizens of Crimea will decide whether or not to approve their parliament’s decision.
Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, immediately denounced the move as having no legal basis in Ukrainian law, saying,
“Crimea was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine.”
While European Union leaders echoed this sentiment, calling the move unconstitutional, there doesn’t seem to be anything they can do about it without provoking violence, as Crimea is currently occupied by the Russian military.
On Wednesday, Russian sailors pulled an old anti-submarine vessel out of a junkyard and sank it in the strait that connects the Black Sea to the Donuzlav Lake, preventing Ukrainian ships docked nearby from being able to go to sea.
While the European Union has presented plenty of tough rhetoric, they are hesitant to actually do anything.
Why? Well, because Russia is one of their biggest trading partners, and also provides a substantial portion of the EU’s gas and oil- putting economic sanctions on them would hurt the EU indirectly.
So despite that President Barack Obama called Russia’s intervention a “violation of international law,” and said that,
“the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm,”
it seems that he might actually be on his own with this one.
- Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk: Crimea ‘was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine’ (CNN)
- Russians sink a boat off Ukraine coast – their own (LA Times)
- Europe’s dependence on Russian oil and gas makes it hard to enact meaningful trade sanctions (National Post)