Crimea’s parliament formally asked to become part of the Russian Federation. If the request is granted, they will hold a referendum on March 16th.
The Crimean parliament resolved “to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation”.
In a statement on its website, parliament said it had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin “to start the procedure” of formally allowing Crimea to join the Russian Federation.
On March 16th, the Crimean people will be asked these two questions:
Are you in favor of reuniting Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation?
Are you in favor of retaining the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine?
In November, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, who was backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, turned down a $15 billion bailout from the European Union in favor of a $15 billion bailout from Russia. The people in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, immediately descended on Independence Square to protest Yanukovych’s decision. At the same time, Crimea quietly took steps to protect their Russian interests. Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine, but 58.5% of the population are ethnic Russians and Russia’s Black Sea Fleet have a base in the peninsula.
When Yanukovych was deposed, protesters gathered in Sevastopol to protest the new government in Kiev, declared allegiance to Russia, and announced plans to secede. On February 25th, the port city kicked out their Kiev-elected officials and appointed a pro-Russian mayor to take over. After Kiev’s parliament elected a new cabinet, Crimea’s parliament dissolved their government and elected Sergey Aksyonov, Crimea’s Russian Unity Party Leader, as their new chairman until the new elections.
Gunmen and men wearing Russian Navy ensigns seized government buildings in Crimea and the international airport just hours after Crimea installed their new government. Russia confirmed they moved more troops into Crimea, and Aksyonov made a very public plea to Putin to send more troops for security against Ukraine.
On March 2nd, gunmen and Russian soldiers surrounded two Ukraine military bases, which forced Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk to order full military mobilization for war. The international community told Putin to pull back his forces in Crimea, but he refused.
Ukraine’s Navy Head, Denys Berezovsky who was only appointed on March 1st, defected in Crimea on March 2nd. Later that night, a US official announced Russia was in full control of Crimea, and the next morning Russian soldiers took over a ferry terminal in Kerch, which is only 12 miles by boat to Russia.
Ukraine’s parliament said it would be unconstitutional for Crimea to join Russia. This proposal will likely increase tensions between the West and Russia, especially if Putin accepts it. NATO is already examining any NATO-Russian agreements, and President Obama said his administration is looking into economic and diplomatic sanctions against Russia.