Russia Annexes Crimea and Gets Kicked Out of G8; Ukraine Preparing for War

Here’s a quick timeline of the most recent events in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

On Sunday (March 16), residents of Crimea voted on a referendum of whether to leave Ukraine and join Russia- the measure passed by upwards of 90%. It is important to note, however, that all signs point to a pretty illegitimate vote.

For one, the ballot didn’t even include an option to stay with Ukraine- the two options were to leave Ukraine and join Russia, or leave Ukraine and become independent.

Secondly, it’s obvious that there was plenty of intimidation involved- Russian soldiers and armed “unmarked militia” (that pretty much everyone agrees are pro-Russian forces) patrol the streets of Crimea. This blog from Jon Lee Anderson at The New Yorker describes some of the intimidation tactics he saw employed by the “thugs” in the streets of Crimea.

Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, march outside an Ukrainian military base in the village of Perevalnoye

Lastly, some of the actual results are simply ridiculous. For example, 123% of the major Crimean city of Sevastapool cast votes on the referendum. Mykhaylo Malyshev, chair of the committee overseeing the vote, announced on the evening of the 16th that 1,250,426 people had voted, but said that figure did include Sevastopol’s electorate. Including that city, he said, 1,724,563 total people voted.

The difference between these numbers (474,137) should be the number of votes cast in Sevastapool, right? Well, last year’s census put the voting-age population of Sevastapool at 385,462…very suspicious to say the least.

The next day (March 17), Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh responded to the results of the referendum by saying,

“Crimea was, is, and will be our territory.”

Ihor Tenyuhk (Photo: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

Ihor Tenyuhk (Photo: Ukrainian Ministry of Defense)

When asked if Ukrainian troops would fight to defend Crimea, he replied carefully, saying,

“The armed forces will execute their tasks… Ukrainian forces will stay [in Crimea] until all their tasks have been completed.”

While Tenyukh said that Ukraine would “do everything possible to prevent war”, he noted,

“the threat of war is real…We are strengthening our defense capacity. Ukraine is ready to defend its territory.”

Then earlier today (March 18), Russian president Vladimir Putin signed a treaty which effectively annexed Crimea, making it a part of Russia.

Putin speaking in front of Russian parliament earlier today (Photo: BBC)

Putin speaking in front of Russian parliament earlier today (Photo: BBC)

Putin said the moves corrected a “historical injustice”, as well as saying that Crimea has “always been a part of Russia”.

Naturally, the Ukrainian foreign ministry responded, saying,

 “We do not recognise and never will recognise the so-called independence or the so-called agreement on Crimea joining the Russian Federation.”

A few hours later, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced in an interview with Europe-1 radio that the other members of the G8 (a forum for the 8 leading industrialized countries) had decided to suspend Russia’s membership.

Fabius did, however, say,

“We are continuing dialogue with the Russians, despite the fact that we do not agree with them.”

BONUS: After the US announced (relatively inconsequential) sanctions against some Russian officials including the freezing of their American visas, Putin’s top aide said:

“The only things that interest me in the US are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

Props for being a Tupac fan at least!

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