By Abhishek Joshi
The US and European leaders could see smirk on President Putin’s face when Moscow-backed Crimea government decided to secede from Ukraine to join Russia. President Putin has been clear from the start that Russia isn’t interested in annexing Crimea but what can he do if Crimeans want to join Russia. While the US has imposed visa restrictions and threatens to impose more stringent actions against officials involved in threatening the sovereignty of state of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Prime Minister of Ukraine, is still helpless. Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, has been under siege of military occupation, which appears to be Russian, since February 27. Soon the existing government was overthrown and a pro-Russian government was installed, which wanted autonomy from rest of Ukraine. While this referendum is seen as unconstitutional by current administration in Ukraine, Russia has welcomed new government, insisting that Russia isn’t annexing the territory and that Crimeans are free to choose what they want. Ukranian President Turchynov is insisting on dissolving the illegitimate regional government in Crimea before March 16 when the referendum to join Russia will be open to public in Crimea. Dissolving could lead to military escalation with Ukrainian troops entering Simferopol. However, it isn’t clear what strategy would Russia use if Ukranian troops try to get back Crimea from a government that doesn’t recognize Kiev’s government. While the Crieman government was under closed sessions discussing the possibility of joining Russia, demonstrators were waving Russian flags outside the parliament. Not everyone in Crimea is favor of joining Russia but that’s a vocal minority. Referendum will lead to vote rigging with a definite outcome that Crimea wants to join Russia, and that it’s more Russia than Ukraine. It isn’t clear whether this will spread to other regions within the Russian sphere of influence. The audaciousness with which a pro-Russian government, under the blessings of Moscow, could secede from its country will most likely motivate pro-Russian population in Georgia.
|Russian President Vladimir Putin |
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Mr. Abhishek Joshi serves as associate editor of The Seoul Times. He graduated from the School of Electrical Engineering of Seoul National University. He was also a member of SNU Quill, first English magazine from Seoul National University, as a writer.