03/18/2014, 00.00
RUSSIA - UKRAINE
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Putin's Russia recognizes the Crimea and its request for annexation

The EU and the U.S. launch sanctions against 21 Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainian representatives. They include Yanukovych, but not Putin. Kiev is ready to dialogue with Moscow, but rejects the annexation. The problems of the present and the immediate future: Ukrainian soldiers in the Crimea, the Tatars, the peninsula’s economy heretofore dependent on Ukraine. Moscow has sent 15 billion rubles to the new independent state.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has officially informed Moscow of the Crimea's request to become part of the Federation. Last night, the president signed a decree recognizing the independence of the peninsula after the result of the referendum, which according to the new leaders of the peninsula result in 97% of voters in favour.

The European Union (EU) and the United States argue that the referendum is illegal and have imposed sanctions on 21 government representatives from Russia and Crimea. In addition, the referendum was held under the control of armed Russian or pro-Russian forces.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and thousands of Russian soldiers and Russian "military tourists" have infiltrated in the Crimea since February. In addition, at least 60 thousand Moscow troops are massed on the eastern border of Ukraine.The measures taken by the EU affect 13 Russian officials and eight pro-Russian Ukrainians. These include Sergei Axionov, the self-proclaimed prime minister of Crimea, the mayor of Sevastopol, Admiral Denis Berezovsky, head of the Ukrainian Navy .

The U.S. has decided to target 11 Russian and Ukrainian personalities, including former President Viktor Yanukovych and Putin's two senior advisers. For now, the sanctions amount to denial of travel visas and freezing of their foreign funds.

Some observers judge these measures to be "lukewarm" and "ineffective", and moreover they fail to directly target Putin.

Ukrainian President ad interim, Olexander Turchinov said that Kiev is ready for talks with Russia on the Crimea, but will never accept the annexation of the peninsula. He accused Russia of wanting to "rebuild the empire" and "of fearing a European and democratic Ukraine".

Meanwhile, the Crimean parliament has nationalized all Ukrainian government property and has decreed that the laws of Ukraine are no longer applicable on the peninsula that henceforth will adopt the Russian ruble and will also change time zone by two hours to follow Moscow time.

The most immediate problems are related to the presence of Ukrainian soldiers and their families in the Crimea. All barracks are controlled by pro-Russian soldiers or Russian tanks and the Kiev soldiers are in fact prisoners. Another issue is the fate of the Muslim Tatars (12% of the inhabitants of the peninsula) long time enemies of the Soviet Union, who boycotted the referendum.

But the more imbedded and bitter problems is the Crimea's economic survival detached from Ukraine from which it receives drinking water, electricity, gas, and its budget is covered in large part by the Kiev government. According Axionov, Russia has already sent 15 billion rubles (about 295 million Euro) to support the peninsula's economy.

According to Asian commentators, if the U.S. and EU allow Russia to do whatever it wants with Ukraine, there is the fear that in the future even China and North Korea will grow more aggressive.

 

 

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