Russia

Putin Signs Treaty Making Crimea Part of Russia in Wake of US and EU Sanctions

Following Sunday's referendum in Crimea

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What's happening in Russia and Ukraine today, March 18:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a treaty with Crimean officials making Crimea part of Russia. The move comes after Sunday's referendum on the future of the Black Sea peninsula in which officials say over 97 percent of voters backed Crimea becoming part of Russia. The referendum was deemed illegal by the government in Kiev, the U.S., and the European Union.

Speaking earlier today before the Russian parliament, Putin said that "in people's heart of hearts, Crimea has always been part of Russia."

In the wake of the news of the Crimean referendum the U.S. and the E.U. issued asset freezes and travel bans on some individual Ukrainian and Russian officials. Speaking yesterday President Obama said that sanctions could be expanded "if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine." 

What do the European and American sanctions include?

The E.U. published a list of sanctions against 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials. The sanctions include asset freezes and travel bans. In order for the E.U. to impose sanctions all 28 member states must agree to them. There were reportedly about 120 individuals on a list of those who were being considered possible targets of sanctions but, as The Guardian explains, there was disagreement among E.U. nations on the number of Russians and Crimeans to be targeted by the sanctions:

It is notoriously difficult to secure EU agreement on sanctions anywhere because they require unanimity from the 28 member states. There were wide differences over the numbers of Russians and Crimeans to be punished, with countries such as Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Spain reluctant to penalise Moscow for fear of closing down channels of dialogue.

Yesterday Obama signed an executive order expanding already existing sanctions. The latest sanctions target 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials and include asset freezes and travel bans.

Putin is reportedly planning to ban some U.S. senators and officals from visiting Russia. 

What is being said about recent events in Crimea and Russia

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin asked on Twitter if Obama had considered that some of the officials targeted by asset freezes don't have assets abroad:

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the sanctions did not target enough Russian officials, saying:

The crisis in Ukraine calls for a far more significant response from the United States. Today's Executive Order could be an important part of that response, but sanctioning only seven Russian officials is wholly inadequate at this stage.

Over at Bloomberg, Henry Meyer and Yuliya Fedorinova say that although sanctions against Russia may put its economy in recession, most Russians view Putin's defiance of the West as a show of strength:

Even at the risk of sanctions that could tip the economy into recession for the second time in five years, Russians see his defiance of the West over Ukraine as a sign of strength, reinforcing his image as a leader who restored his country's greatness from the post-Communism chaos of the 1990s.

Writing in The National Interest, Job C. Henning and William Courtney argue that "robust military steps" are needed in order to ensure Ukraine's territorial integrity and the removal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board says that U.S. and other countries should be willing to impose further sanctions on Russia in response to the annexation of Crimea.  

At CNN, Assistant Editor and foreign affairs columnist at The Guardian Simon Tisdall has said that in light of the fact that the outcome of the referendum in Crimea seems to have broadly reflected the views of its residents it would not be wise for Obama and European leaders to refuse to recognize result of the vote:

The crucial turnout figures of up to 83% are suspect and may well be inflated. But independent reporting of enthusiastic celebrations suggested the overall outcome genuinely reflected popular wishes—and was crudely democratic.

For this reason, it is unwise of U.S. President Barack Obama and his European counterparts to declare they will "never" recognize the Crimean result.

More from Reason on Ukraine here

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  1. So, a violent and bloody coup happens and we’ll just see how it plays out, but a non-violent referendum happens and we refuse to sit around and do nothing!

    Those people of Crimea are going to get our freedom (well, the Ukraine’s freedom) whether they want it or not.

    1. Oh yeah, that non-violent referendum was “non-violent” (soldiers with guns everywhere and some people having been killed, beaten, or intimidated) and totally wasn’t rigged.

      It’s the fucking Soviet Union again man!

      1. Oh yeah, that non-violent referendum was “non-violent” (soldiers with guns everywhere and some people having been killed, beaten, or intimidated) and totally wasn’t rigged.

        Rigged or not, the “popularly supported?” violent protests that killed dozens people in Kiev are hardly an example of social justice and law and order that other proto-nations should emulate. I mean, it worked in Tahrir Square, right?

        It’s the fucking Soviet Union again man!

        No, it’s not. The Allies aren’t carving up the smouldering hole that is Europe. A cult of personality like Stalin or Mao can’t exist in the information age (even without the internet, personas like Comrade Obama’s tarnish quickly). Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania… all these nations would violently oppose occupation (rather than passively abstaining from a referendum). Also, a ‘United Ukraine’ is more representative of Stalin’s USSR than a Ukraine and Crimea/Russia divide.

        Further, some of these countries (e.g. Latvia, Lithuania) have prospered since the breakup of the USSR, more so even than Russia. Others (Ukraine, Moldova, Tajikistan…) have only languished. Why wouldn’t Putin annex them and why wouldn’t they support their annexation? More importantly why should we get involved?

        The far bigger worry is yet another President that is fond of escalation and drawing red lines that shouldn’t be drawn and that he’ll/we’ll have to sacrifice (more) life and/or ego on.

        1. Well, I might point out that back in the bad ol’ Soviet days, the “Soviet” Union deliberately exported ethnic Russians to displace natives that might object to annexation of the “near abroad”. So even if a majority of Crimeans approved, it’s still a bit of retro-imperialism. Self-determination sounds great, but what if the “self” is itself an artificial construct?

  2. As a start, Obama should consider revoking Russion political leaders exemption from the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. He has the power and authority to do that, right?

  3. Uh oh, BO is mad.

    That pansy couldn’t scare a bird away.

  4. Syria killed 100 times more people with the chem weapons, and the west’s reaction to that was more subdued. Did we sanction any of their high ranking officials?

    Let’s face it, no two rogue nations are the same. China and Russia and major suppliers to (or buyers with) someone in the world. They have the kind of military firepower to fight back, but they show some level of restraint because of their economic interests. So we can slap some tough sounding and meaningless sanctions on them and get away with it.

    But parts of the middle east are lost cause, and getting tough with them might encourage radical groups in those nations (which the government cannot control) to retaliate.

  5. my co-worker’s step-mother makes $63 every hour on the computer . She has been laid off for 6 months but last month her pay was $18624 just working on the computer for a few hours. i was reading this…….
    http://www.Works23.us

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