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article imageOp-Ed: Crimean parliament votes to join Russia, new referendum March 16

By Ken Hanly     Mar 6, 2014 in Politics
Sevastopol - The parliament of the autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to leave the Ukraine and become part of Russia. A referendum to approve or disapprove the move will be held on March 16.
The situation in the Crimea is changing rapidly. Originally the parliament simply refused to recognize the new Ukrainian government and also asked for Russian help with security. The police and security forces were also made subject to the prime minister of the Crimea rather than the Ukraine. A referendum on increasing the powers of the autonomous republic was set for May 24 along with the Ukraine elections but was then moved up to March 30. Now the question has changed drastically to asking whether voters want to join with Russia or not.
The parliamentary vote in the 100 seat legislature was 78 to 0 with 8 abstentions in favor of both joining Russia and holding the referendum. The referendum actually offers an alternative of remaining part of the Ukraine but with enhanced local powers as it had briefly as an autonomous republic after the collapse of the Soviet Union before joining the Ukraine.
The situation is quickly escalating out of control as Washington is imposing visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans who Washington says are "threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukraine. Of course it was the USSR that added the Crimea on to the Ukraine in 1954. Washington did not object when Kosovo threatened the territorial integrity of Serbia nor of course when the constituent republics of the USSR declared independence. The Chicago Tribune reports even more moves by Washington to punish those who do not follow along with western wishes:
U.S. President Barack Obama took steps to punish those involved in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, ordering the freezing of their U.S. assets and a ban on travel into the United States.
The Russian parliament introduced a bill that will simplify the process for Crimea to join Russia. It could be passed as early as next week.
The vice-premier of Crimea Rustam Temirgaliev said: "From today, as Crimea is part of the Russian Federation, the only legal forces here are troops of the Russian Federation, and any troops of the third country will be considered to be armed groups with all the associated consequences." Ukrainian interim government president Oleksander Turchinov said that the authorities in Crimea are "totally illegitimate": "They are forced to work under the barrel of a gun and all their decisions are dictated by fear and are illegal,''
Apparently the west thought that it could bring the Ukraine into the western sphere of influence without any serious repercussions. This is a serious miscalculation. The Crimea is now annexed to Russia and the cold war has once again heated up.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about republic of crimea, ukraine crisis, crimea referendum
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