Russian Flags Wave Behind A Statue Of Lenin. Credit To CNN
Today, March 16th, Crimeans took to the polls to vote on their future. In a region of 2 million people, the referendum had only 2 options, either independence or joining Russia. The status quo of staying part of Ukraine was not an option. 93% of the vote went to seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.
Voters had to be 18 or older, and present some form of ID. Journalists report, however, that some went in with solely a passport, and some voters cast multiple votes.
The Russians are very happy with this outcome, with Crimea back under Moscow’s control. They maintain that this was a legal referendum, and that they were saving ethnic Russians in Crimea from “fascists”. President Putin calls the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych unconstitutional.
The United States and Europe effectively unanimously agree that this is illegal. The West maintains that this vote violates Ukrainian and International law. The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said territorial referendums legally have to be held “across the entirety of Ukraine and not just in a sub-region like this.”
Jose Manuel Barroso (@BarrosoEU), the President of the EU Commission, tweeted “#Crimea referendum illegal and illegitimate. EU will not recognize its outcome.”
The G7 said that if Moscow does not stop trying to change Crimea’s status, “further action” would occur.
Voting Booth In Crimea. Credit To CNN
The Western condemnation of this referendum is obvious, and widespread. Both Britain and the United States said that additional sanctions will be put in place if this vote goes through. British Foreign Minister William Hague stated that “If there is no progress on these things in the next few days then we will move to the next stage of Europe’s response to this crisis, which will involve travel bans and asset freezes on individuals in Russia.” Now that the vote has gone through, both Washington and London must work together to isolate Russia.
On Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on CNN, the Polish Foreign Minister stood strong for the EU, saying that, “Russia is leaving us no choice. And the European Council has decided, if there is no movement on Russia’s part to correct the position, then I’m afraid we’ll have no – no choice on Monday.”
Ballot Box In Crimea. Credit Here.
I believe that Crimea is the only chance Russia has to exert international influence. In the planned Eurasian Union, made up of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, Crimea would be valuable as it would be the only warm-water port. Crimea allows for influence in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This Eurasian Union, it is the planned joining of Russia and other former Soviet satellites.
I have come to the conclusion that Russia has taken this military action in Ukraine because Ukraine will not be part of the Eurasian Union. As Vladimir Putin said, regarding the Eurasian Union, that it would build upon the “best values of the Soviet Union.” This is the reforming of the Soviet Union. Russia has said that it has taken over Crimea because Ukraine is still Russian, so, if Ukraine shows any opposition to Putin…you see what happens. If Putin cannot get Ukraine to join willingly, he will take it forcefully, starting with the most valuable land: Crimea.
Then-Sec. Hillary Clinton With Putin in 2010. Credit Here
This is why Hillary Clinton compared this action to Hitler invading Sudetenland. “The claims by Putin that they had to go into Crimea, because they had to protect Russian minorities, is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930’s.” and, “Germany, under the Nazis claimed they had to protect German minorities in Czechoslovakia … and throughout Europe.” She was supported in her statement by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Two of the greatest foreign policy minds alive agree that the takeover of Crimea seems a lot like it is 1938 again.
The Eurasian Union will be the reincarnation of the Soviet Union. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, spoke about that too. “It’s not going to be called that [USSR]. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Crimea is the start, and Sunday, March 16th will be remembered like May 14th, 1955, when the Warsaw Pact was signed. It is up to us if it leads to a Second Cold War.