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Friday, March 7, 2014

Ukraine: Crimean crisis continues amid increasing Western pressure and Russian statements about cutting relationships with Ukraine

Russian military occupies Crimea
(Image: Deutsche Welle)
Russian troops remain on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea despite the continuous demands of Ukrainian government and international community to immediately withdraw them and to respect Ukrainian borders, territorial integrity and sovereignty. Provocations and attacks also continue, as Russian soldiers have mined the main gas pipeline in the region and threatened locals with weapons. Russian soldiers are also storming at the moment Ukrainian military base close to the military airport in Belbek. All the strategic object on the Peninsula are being controlled by the Russian troops, as local and Ukrainian media are being cut and replaced by the Russian outlets. There are also many Russian citizens presented in the region now provoking and trying to demonstrate “wide support” of Russia and Russian invasion.

As for the Crimean separatist and illegitimate government, Ukrainian Court and General Prosecution have already issued arrest warrants against the pro-Russian Head of Crimean Parliament Mr. Konstantinov and self-proclaimed Prime Minister Mr. Aksyonov. Crimean Parliament has voted on Thursday for separation of Crimea from Ukraine and joining Russian Federation and set the referendum on this issue on 16 March, despite the total illegitimacy of this referendum and foreign military presence in Ukraine.

Russian Parliament's Upper House head Matvienko and Crimean
separatist head of Parliament Konstantinov
(Image: BBC)
Russian side has supported this move and welcomed delegation of Ukrainian separatist MPs from Crimean Parliament led by Konstantinov and Aksyonov in Moscow, during the meeting of Russian Parliament’s Upper House. Valentina Matvienko, Head of Upper House of Russian Parliament, has declared that Russian Parliament is ready to vote for annexing of Crimea and joining Russia and claimed that the referendum is legitimate and will express the legal right of people for their national identification and totally corresponds with Ukrainian and international law. Mrs. Matvienko though seems to forget that separation of the territory of an independent and sovereign state and violation of its territorial integrity contradicts all the terms of international law and Ukrainian Constitution, and that Ukrainian law doesn’t allow holding a regional referendum on the issues of the constitutional and law status of Ukrainian regions. In addition to that, referendum is forbidden during the military occupation. Matvienko though stated that Russian Parliament will support this decision and is working on the draft law regulating simplified and fast procedure of accession of the foreign territories to Russian Federation.

Aksyonov and Konstantinov in their turn have assured Russian government that they will make everything possible for not only Crimean, but the all-Ukrainian annexing to Russia and to “get rid of Western influence and fascism”.

Crimean Parliament has presented on Friday the ballots prepared for the referendum. The ballots ironically do not give the possibility to answer “no”. Ukrainian Central Electoral Commission though has officially frozen the process of preparation for the referendum and closed the national lists of eligible voters. High Constitutional Court in its turn is reviewing the issue of legitimacy of Crimean Referendum and Crimean self-proclaimed puppet government, governed from Moscow.
Unarmed Ukrainian soldiers approcahing Russian block post
in Crimea
(Image: BBC)

Political experts including Russian think that rapid developments and decisions of Crimean government and Russia as well, such as a new draft law about accession of foreign territories to Russia, indicates their worries regarding the situation in Crimea, that is changing fast. Ukrainian intelligence service has issued arrest warrants for pro-Russian Aksyonov and Konstantinov and investigates currently the situation with the Russian troops in Crimea, Ukrainian Armed Forces have mobilized and continue to stand against Russian attacks and provocations, international community increases its pressure. There is also a serious threat of Russian political and economic isolation, thus, Russian tries to act as fast as possible. MPs from Russian Parliament understand that the results of the Crimean referendum won’t be recognized by any country, as even Russian aides Belarus and Kazakhstan didn’t’ support Putins’ policies in Ukraine and intervention and refused to send their observers for the referendum.

Meanwhile, 47 European countries have expressed their string condemnation of Russian military invasion in Ukraine and its policies. Committee of European Commission has issued a Resolution condemning Putin’s aggression in Crimea and demanding Russian to withdraw the troops and de-escalate situation. Sanctions could be imposed against Russia in case there will be no de-escalation.

Aeseniy Yatsenyuk during the Summit in Brussels
(Image: Deutsche Welle)
USA has even more harsh tone, as Barak Obama has delivered a special statement over the situation in Ukraine and issued a decree allowing imposing sanctions against some persons and organizations violating Ukrainian borders, territorial integrity, and sovereignty and democratic process. These sanctions could be imposed against Russian and Ukrainian (Crimean) officials. US has already imposed visa restrictions for some Russian and Crimea officials. Canada in its turn has imposed addressed sanctions against Russian officials as well.
OSCE mission representative and Commissioner for the national minorities rights and affairs Astrid Thors, who has visited Kyiv and Crime and examined the situation, has issued a statement regarding the worrying and dangerous situation in Crimea, as Ukrainian and native Crimean Tatar communities could be threatened by the recent events in Crimea, while she didn’t find any violations of Russian and Russian-speaking citizen either in Crimea, or in Kyiv and other region of Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Russian leadership after an extraordinary Summit of EU to respect Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty and to withdraw the troops. She also stated that EU is ready to sign Association Agreement with Ukraine over the coming days or weeks. The “trade part” could be signed a little bit later, as it requires some bilateral talks and consultations. Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has declared after his visit to Brussels, that EU unilaterally opens free trade zone for Ukraine and is also ready to support Ukrainian economy with financial aid.

Russian in its turn has officially declared about cutting all the diplomatic relationships with Ukraine as Moscow refuses to recognize new Ukrainian government, according to Valeriy Churkin, Russian representative in UN.