The West vowed more sanctions against Russia if they use the March 16 referendum to stay with Ukraine or join the Russian Federation to justify more aggression towards Ukraine. Russia and Crimea are ignoring these threats and moving forward with the vote while taking more control of the peninsula.
The US stopped all trade and military engagements with Russia and imposed visa bans on Russians and Crimeans who are viewed as a threat to Ukraine’s sovereignty, but the State Department did not name the individuals. According to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, the Treasury Department is also working on sanctions against Russia if the forces continue to push out Ukraine in Crimea.
Geoffrey Pyatt, America’s ambassador to Ukraine, said the US will not recognize Crimea’s referendum. The administration agrees with Ukraine Arseniy Yatseniuk that the referendum is illegal and should not take place. The House of Representatives passed a resolution that condemns Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
In a 402-7 vote, lawmakers approved a nonbinding resolution stating that Russia’s action poses a “threat to international peace and security” and calling on Russia to remove “all of its military forces from Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula” other than those that are there in accordance with an agreement on operations of Russia’s Black Sea fleet.
The resolution urges the Obama administration to “work with our European allies and other countries to impose visa, financial, trade, and other sanctions on senior Russian Federation officials, majority state-owned banks and commercial organizations, and other state agencies, as appropriate.”
World leaders met in London on Tuesday to work on sanctions against Russia, but despite British Prime Minister David Cameron’s extreme tough talk, they decided on sanctions on low-level enforcers instead of Russia President Vladimir Putin and his rich oligarch friends.
The pro-Russia militias and Russia forces harass journalists at checkpoints and stopped all flights except those in Moscow. They took over government buildings, ferry terminals, Ukraine military bases, and hospitals.
The West told Putin to hold talks with Ukraine, but Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said many times the new government is illegitimate and there will not be any discussions until a real leader emerges in Kyiv.