Crimea

Motley’s Luke Luby looks at the latest on-goings in Crimea.

“The Russian people became one of the biggest, if not the biggest, split-up nation in the world.” That’s how Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is trying to justify his annexation of Crimea, which he announced on Tuesday, March 18th. The comment came as a part of a speech Mr Putin made at a speech made to Russian political elites, including members of both the Russian houses of parliament and all key political leaders.

At the end of his speech, which was frequently met with applause, he signed documents with Crimea’s de facto leader Sergei Akysonov which enabled Crimea to be absorbed into Russia. The day beforehand Mr Putin said he recognised Crimea as an independent state, which made it easier for it to become a part of the Russian federation. Ukraine will be entering into a “military” phase with Russia after it claimed that a Ukrainian serviceman was shot dead in Crimea.

So far a number of commentators have compared Russia’s recent actions to the build up, and subsequent start of, World War Two, with Ukrainian interim president Oleksandr Turchynov saying in a statement that: “Russia is playing a dirty game to annexe Crimea. The second World War began with the annexation by Nazi Germany of other countries’ territories. Today, Putin is following the example of 20th-century fascists.”

In the growing tension between Russia and the rest of the world over the current Crimean conflict, many countries have severed a number of ties with the country, which was proceeding down a “route of isolation”, as British foreign secretary William Hague put it. Mr Putin listed a number of foreign policy grievances he had with the rhetoric of many western nations going back almost 15 years, claiming that the Russian people were cheated again and again, with decisions being taken behind they’re backs.

Many of Crimea’s two million inhabitants have celebrated the possibility of Russian rule, but United States and European Union leaders have stated that they will take further measures and institute further sanctions against Moscow in what could be described as one of the worst crises in East-West relations in recent memory, second only to the Cold War.

In a statement ahead of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, March 20th, British Prime Minister David Cameron warned that: “The steps taken by President Putin today to attempt to annexe Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe. Russia will face more serious consequences and I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures.” However, Russia has responded to these threats of sanctions by stating that they “are absolutely unacceptable and will not be left without consequences.”

Russia has also confirmed that it will not be invading other parts of Ukraine, but Kiev has so far mobilised 40,000 reservists amid unrest in eastern regions.