Monday, 17 March 2014

Crimea votes to re-join Russia

The hastily held referendum in Crimea on re-joining Russia has resulted in a vote in favour of the Crimea re-joining the Russian Federation.  As a consequence, Crimea's parliament has today formally declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.

All I've heard from the UK, US governments and the EU is sour grapes about the result - I have not heard a single credible argument that what has happened is illegal or undemocratic.  William Hague this morning was again talking in "generic" terms of  Russia's actions being unacceptable and discussing (with EU counterparts) of targeted sanctions against specific individuals in the Russian and Crimean leadership.

The timing was questionable, it was done against the backdrop of a large Russian military presence - but the referendum was not conducted at gun-point.  As John Simpson, foreign correspondent of the BBC, remarked on the radio this morning - the result (97% in favour) may be on a par with Kim Jong-Un's election result, but this was no North Korean style vote.  He also remarked on the obvious joy of Crimean population at the result and that this apparently represented the majority will of the people.  The result greeted with scenes of jubilation, street parties and rock concerts.

The referendum had long been planned for this year but was brought forward - no doubt to capitalise on the uncertainty of events in the rest of the Ukraine and the weakness of the authorities in Kiev, as well as uncertainty as to the ability of the Ukrainian state to control all its territorial integrity.

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