Crimean secession vote disregarded by U.S. after senators state that any voting result that comes about under military threats cannot be taken as law. Crimean citizens voted Sunday to decide if they should secede from Ukraine after Russian military pressure on the region reached a high point. Obama has long said that Russian strong-arm tactics will be met with strict sanctions designed to cripple the Russian economy. Comparisons between Hitler and Stalin are flying, with many extrapolating beyond Russia gaining control of Crimea to it eventually claiming the rest of Ukraine. The loudest complaint is that Russia signed an agreement with Ukraine that the integrity of the state would be maintained, and Russia would lay no claim to Ukraine territory, in exchange for Ukraine surrendering its nuclear capabilities.
This took place in 1994, and until now Ukraine has been somewhat stable, despite varying degrees of Russian sentiment across the country having something of a polarizing effect. It is expected that the result of Sundays vote will show the majority of Crimean citizens wish to secede and join Russia, mainly due to the majority of the population having strong Russian blood lines. Russian is also the most commonly spoken language in the region, and it has long been home to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. The referendum went ahead despite threats against Moscow being flung from U.S. and European agencies. Despite the Crimean secession vote disregarded by U.S. politicians, so far the use of military force has been ruled out by all involved parties.
As the Crimean secession vote passes, U.S. sanctions announcements are expected as soon as Monday, and European Union Foreign Ministers will also meet on Monday to decide what actions will be taken by some of Russia’s closest trade ties. It is expected that the U.S. will begin banning travel and freezing assets of low-level Russian political personnel on a similar schedule, gradually working up the ranks as needed, even going as high as Putin himself, until the crisis is resolved and the issues are resolved fairly and legally.
Despite the steps the U.S. and European Union members are willing to take, there is concern of what Russia may do in response. Russia is a major gas exporter to Western Europe, including Germany, Prague, and Turkey. Should they decide to restrict the flow of gas several countries would feel the sting, and be in a weakened state should Russian military force be put to use. Experts have suggested reactivating work on Eastern Europe missile defense systems and sending military aid to Ukraine in an effort to end intimidation and rioting.
As it stands, the U.S. and European Union are prepared to freeze Russian assets in Germany and Great Britain as a response to fuel being withheld, but it is hard to say who would be able to withstand losses the longest. Sabre rattling aside, Russia’s actions have done little to encourage sympathy or agreement from nations watching the worst Eastern European stand-off since the Cold War. As the Crimean secession vote is disregarded by the U.S. and Ukraine teeters on the edge of chaos, some wonder how China will react once things are settled, however that is accomplished.
By Daniel O’Brien