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Crimea Annexation Into Russia: Putin Approves Draft Treaty To Absorb Peninsula

Crimea Annexation Into Russia: Putin Approves Draft Treaty To Absorb Peninsula.

Reuters
Posted: 03/18/2014 2:57 am EDT Updated: 03/18/2014 3:59 am EDT
President Vladimir Putin approved a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, the  Kremlin announced on Tuesday. (Photo by Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)


MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin has approved a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, confirming that Russia plans to make the southern Ukrainian region part of Russia. It said he would sign the treaty with Crimea’s leader.

Putin signed an order on Monday “to approve the draft treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on adopting the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation”.

The order was part of a series of steps to bring Crimea into Russia after voters there approved the move in a weekend referendum that Ukraine and the West have called denounced by Ukraine and the West as illegal.

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Putin calls for three languages in Crimea — Russian, Ukrainian, Crimean Tatar — to be under equal footing. http://t.co/kjYPpSM5kf

— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 18, 2014

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Putin: “When Crimea wound up in another state, Russians thought they’d not just been stolen, but robbed”

— max seddon (@maxseddon) March 18, 2014

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7:09 AM – Today

Standing Ovation For Putin

Thundrous applause in the Federal Assembly as Putin addresses Crimeapic.twitter.com/wjVe8CZbX5

— Joseph Weisenthal (@TheStalwart) March 18, 2014

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is addressing Russia’s parliament. Here is a live feed of it on Russia Today:

–Luke Johnson

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Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk gave a televised address Tuesday in Russian, seeking to assure speakers of the language.

“Association with NATO is not on the agenda,” he said. “Despite the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine, I will do everything possible not only to keep the peace but also to build a genuine partnership with Russia and good neighbor relations.”

Many Ukrainians speak Russian, and it is predominant in the South and East of the country.

–Luke Johnson

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6:15 AM – Today

Crimea Currency To Change

Crimea’s deputy prime minister announced on Tuesday that the region plans to adopt the Russian ruble as its official currency, RTE reported.

The region, which declared itself independent from Ukraine yesterday, will drop the hyrvnia in April.

For more, click here.

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5:07 PM – 03/17/2014

PHOTO: Lenin Square In Simferopol

ukraine

A few people walk through a nearly empty Lenin Square in central Simferopol on March 17, 2014. Crimea declared independence today and applied to join Russia while the Kremlin braced for sanctions after the flashpoint peninsula voted to leave Ukraine in a ballot that has fanned the worst East-West tensions since the Cold War. (FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

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Philipp Missfelder, foreign policy spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour his country could function if Russia were to cut off its gas supplies to the European economic dynamo.

“If the Russians would stop the gas supply for us, or we would raise sanctions on the oil and gas sector, we will be able to have in the interconnected and linked European energy market – of course with higher prices – the energy supply for Germany,” Missfelder said.

Read the entire report here.

— Ryan Craggs

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Ukraine will sign a deal for closer political association with the European Union on Friday, according to a statement from E.U. foreign ministers.

The political provisions are part of an E.U. association agreement rejected by former President Viktor Yanukovych in November, sparking months of protests that preceded his downfall.

Reuters reports the economic and trade cooperation portion of the association agreement will be addressed after Ukraine’s presidential elections, scheduled for May 25.

Find the full statement here.

— Charlotte Alfred

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The Daily Beast reports Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to fire back at the United States with sanctions targeting U.S. officials. The Russian sanctions come in response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement Monday the U.S. was imposing sanctions on high-level Russian officials and fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. More from The Daily Beast:

Putin is expected to release his retaliation list as early as Tuesday and while the final list is still being crafted, it will include top Obama administration officials and high profile U.S. senators, in an effort to roughly mirror the U.S. sanctions against Russian officials and lawmakers, according to diplomatic sources. At the top of the list in Congress is Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who recently co-authored a resolution criticizing Russia’s invasion of Crimea.

Read the full text here.

— Ryan Craggs

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4:14 PM – 03/17/2014

What Does Putin’s Declaration Mean?

According to The New Republic’s Julia Ioffe, Putin’s declaration of Crimea as an independent state doesn’t mean any one thing, for now.

The way Ioffe sees it, Crimea faces two options: A replay of the 2008 land dispute over Abkhazia between Russia and Georgia, or annexation by Russia. But, as Ioffe writes:

What we know now is that we know nothing now. Putin, as always, is moving slowly, but deliberately, carefully leaving his options open while testing the waters of international response. He may decide to keep Crimea as a vassal state stuck in the limbo of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, or he may move to make it another republic inside the Russian Federation.

Read the full article on The New Republic.

— Ryan Craggs

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Tati Cotliar for L’Officiel Ukraine http://t.co/aPlYKqPWmN

— Next Models (@NextModels) 9 months ago

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From Reuters:

The White House said on Monday the United States was reviewing Ukrainian requests for military aid but insisted that Washington for now was limiting its assistance to economic support as it seeks a diplomatic path with Russia.”We’re reviewing requests by the Ukrainian government and military,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. “Our focus is on steps that Russia can take to de-escalate.”

— Charlotte Alfred

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Reuters reports Ukraine has begun digging a defensive trench in the region of Donetsk, near the country’s border with Russia.

The trench includes concrete barriers, according to governor Sergei Taruta, and is intended to restore order in the aftermath of Russia’s takeover in Crimea. Like all regional leaders, Taruta was appointed by Ukraine’s central government.

“Our border is not a castle. But it is equipped so that vehicles cannot cross it in either direction,” Taruta said. “This is not based on one or another scenario, but rather intended to maintain a solid border.”

Read the full report here.

— Ryan Craggs

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2:44 PM – 03/17/2014

Putin Declares Crimea Independent

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree making Crimea a “sovereign and independent” state Monday. It was not immediately clear whether the 37-word decree, which takes effect immediately, was a precursor to annexation or a shift in strategy to make Crimea an independent country.

–Luke Johnson

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BREAKING: Crimean Prime Minister says #Putin just signed order making #Crimea an independent state. http://t.co/l9WxgpyePk

— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) 4 years ago

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crimean parliament
A couple hold a Russian flag outside the Crimean parliament building in central Simferopol on March 17, 2014. (DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)

Click here for more photos of celebrations in Crimea.

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Vadislav Surkov, a top adviser and spinmeister to Vladimir Putin known as a “grey cardinal” inside the Kremlin, brushed off U.S. sanctions with particular aplomb.

“I see the decision by the administration in Washington as an acknowledgment of my service to Russia. It’s a big honor for me. I don’t have accounts abroad,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets. “The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.”

–Luke Johnson

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White House spokesman Jay Carney did not rule out direct U.S. sanctions against Russia’s Putin during a press conference on Monday.

“The authority exists to apply sanctions to a variety of individuals and entities,” Carney told reporters, according to Reuters. “We’re not going to rule out individuals or rule out actions.”

Putin is currently not on the list of individuals targeted by U.S. sanctions, nor is Russia foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

— Eline Gordts

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crimea
Cossack men install a Russian flag and a Crimean flag on the roof of the City Hall building on March 17, 2014 in Bakhchysarai, Ukraine. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty.

Posted: 03/06/2014 6:39 pm EST Updated: 03/07/2014 11:18 am EST


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BY BRADLEY KLAPPER & LARA JAKES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama ordered the West’s first sanctions in response to Russia’s military takeover of Crimea on Thursday, declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine. He asserted that a hastily scheduled referendum on Crimea seceding and becoming part of Russia would violate international law.

European leaders announced their own measures but split over how forcefully to follow America’s lead. Obama threatened further steps if Russia persists.

After announcing his sanctions at midday, Obama emphasized his resolve in a personal telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Thursday, the White House said. In a one-hour discussion, Obama affirmed his contention that Russia’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The U.S. president told Putin there was still a way to resolve the dispute diplomatically, the White House said — with Russian forces moving back to their base in Crimea, the governments of Ukraine and Russia holding direct talks and international monitors arriving.

The U.S. is also calling on Russia to recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian plans for elections in May, not the Crimean referendum a week from Sunday.

In all, signs still pointed to a continuing diplomatic battle over Ukraine and what could prove a broader fault line in Europe’s post-Cold War order.

While East and West no longer threaten nuclear war and have vastly expanded commercial ties, Russia is determined to dominate the future of the former Soviet republics along its borders. Washington, its NATO partners and others across the continent are striving to pull these nations out of Moscow’s orbit.

Underscoring his position, Obama issued an executive action slapping new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine’s government in Kiev and authorizing wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. None of the measures appeared aimed at the Russian president personally.

“Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve,” Obama said at the White House. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.”

Obama hailed U.S. cooperation with the European Union, which imposed its own sanctions on Russia on Thursday. In an emergency meeting in Brussels, EU leaders decided to suspend talks with Putin’s government on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc — a long-standing Russian objective. Yet at the same time, Europe’s presidents and prime ministers were divided on more drastic steps such as freezing assets and issuing travel bans on Russian officials.

European hesitancy reflected the reality that targeting influential Russian businessmen or major Russian companies would also harm Europe’s economic interests. Russian investors hold assets worth billions in European banks, particularly in Britain and Cyprus, and major exporters such as Germany and the Netherlands have far more at stake than the United States in Russia’s consumer economy. Many other European countries depend on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

Russian troops have seized control of much of Crimea, where ethnic Russians are the majority. Moscow doesn’t recognize the Ukrainian government that came to power after protesters ousted the country’s pro-Russian president last month. Putin and other officials have cited strategic interests as well as the protection of ethnic Russians in making the case for intervention. Russia leases a major navy base there.

The Western debate over how strongly to penalize Russia is important given that neither the U.S. nor Europe is advocating the use of force. The U.S. military has stepped up joint aviation training with Polish forces and American participation in NATO’s air-policing mission in its Baltic countries. But the Pentagon, like its NATO partners, has strictly ruled out military options.

In the latest threatening move Thursday, Crimean lawmakers voted 78-0 to schedule a referendum on March 16 on whether the region should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Obama said such a vote would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law.” Because Ukraine is a member of the United Nations, any action that is unconstitutional in Ukraine would be considered illegitimate in international law.

But the West supported Kosovo’s independence six years ago, which included no consent by Serbia’s government and occurred despite Russian objections, Obama might have been trying to differentiate Ukraine’s situation by arguing that borders shouldn’t be “redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”

The U.S. sanctions push has prompted a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and most Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

The House of Representatives voted 385-23 on Thursday in favor of the first U.S. aid bill for Ukraine’s fledgling government, following on an Obama administration promise of $1 billion in loan guarantees. The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a separate resolution condemning Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea and urging visa, financial and trade sanctions. Senators are at work on a larger bill putting together all elements of a U.S. response and hope to introduce the legislation next week.

The EU offered $15 billion in aid to help Ukraine’s cash-depleted economy on Wednesday, still far short of the $35 billion that Ukraine’s government says it needs in bailout loans through next year. The U.S., EU and others are trying to work out a package with the International Monetary Fund.

Showing greater caution than Obama on sanctions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European penalties against Russia depend “on how the diplomatic process progresses.” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit could still come. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk acknowledged “no enthusiasm” in Europe for economic sanctions.

Western leaders fear Russia is becoming entrenched in Crimea and could turn its focus to Ukraine’s industrial heart in the east, where Russian speakers similarly are a majority. Central and Eastern European countries that lived for decades under the Soviet Union’s domination are especially sensitive to the threat. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite warned, “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries.”

For the U.S. and its allies, the specter of Georgia’s 2008 schism looms large. After a nine-day war between Russia and Georgia’s then pro-Western government, the Kremlin supported two regions in breaking away from Georgia. Most of the world doesn’t recognize their independence, but Russia protects their autonomy. Then, as now, the U.S. and EU reaction was limited in scope and included no military moves. In the United States, Obama initiated a “reset” of ties with Russia less than a year later.

With Ukraine at risk of a similar fate, the U.S. has suspended talks on an investment treaty with Russia. NATO has halted military cooperation with Russia and has decided to review all aspects of the relationship with Moscow. The U.S. and European countries have halted preparations for a planned June summit in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

But so far Putin hasn’t budged. His government claims that Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, remains the leader of Ukraine. The pro-Russian Yanukovych fled to a location near Moscow for protection.

Also Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met again with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Kerry stressed a need for a direct Russian-Ukrainian dialogue and the importance of allowing international monitors into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Diplomatic progress appeared elusive.

___

Lara Jakes reported from Rome. AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and AP writers Juergen Baetz and Mike Corder in Brussels and Yuras Karmanau in Simferopol, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine's Sovereignty

Obama To Putin: Russia Action Violates Ukraine’s Sovereignty.

Posted: 03/06/2014 6:39 pm EST Updated: 03/07/2014 11:18 am EST


MORE:

BY BRADLEY KLAPPER & LARA JAKES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama ordered the West’s first sanctions in response to Russia’s military takeover of Crimea on Thursday, declaring his determination not to let the Kremlin carve up Ukraine. He asserted that a hastily scheduled referendum on Crimea seceding and becoming part of Russia would violate international law.

European leaders announced their own measures but split over how forcefully to follow America’s lead. Obama threatened further steps if Russia persists.

After announcing his sanctions at midday, Obama emphasized his resolve in a personal telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin later Thursday, the White House said. In a one-hour discussion, Obama affirmed his contention that Russia’s actions violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The U.S. president told Putin there was still a way to resolve the dispute diplomatically, the White House said — with Russian forces moving back to their base in Crimea, the governments of Ukraine and Russia holding direct talks and international monitors arriving.

The U.S. is also calling on Russia to recognize the legitimacy of Ukrainian plans for elections in May, not the Crimean referendum a week from Sunday.

In all, signs still pointed to a continuing diplomatic battle over Ukraine and what could prove a broader fault line in Europe’s post-Cold War order.

While East and West no longer threaten nuclear war and have vastly expanded commercial ties, Russia is determined to dominate the future of the former Soviet republics along its borders. Washington, its NATO partners and others across the continent are striving to pull these nations out of Moscow’s orbit.

Underscoring his position, Obama issued an executive action slapping new visa restrictions on Russian and other opponents of Ukraine’s government in Kiev and authorizing wider financial penalties against those involved in the military intervention or in stealing state assets. None of the measures appeared aimed at the Russian president personally.

“Today the world can see that the United States is united with our allies and partners in upholding international law and pursuing a just outcome that advances global security and the future that the Ukrainian people deserve,” Obama said at the White House. “That’s what we’re going to continue to do in the days to come until we have seen a resolution to this crisis.”

Obama hailed U.S. cooperation with the European Union, which imposed its own sanctions on Russia on Thursday. In an emergency meeting in Brussels, EU leaders decided to suspend talks with Putin’s government on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc — a long-standing Russian objective. Yet at the same time, Europe’s presidents and prime ministers were divided on more drastic steps such as freezing assets and issuing travel bans on Russian officials.

European hesitancy reflected the reality that targeting influential Russian businessmen or major Russian companies would also harm Europe’s economic interests. Russian investors hold assets worth billions in European banks, particularly in Britain and Cyprus, and major exporters such as Germany and the Netherlands have far more at stake than the United States in Russia’s consumer economy. Many other European countries depend on Russia for oil and gas supplies.

Russian troops have seized control of much of Crimea, where ethnic Russians are the majority. Moscow doesn’t recognize the Ukrainian government that came to power after protesters ousted the country’s pro-Russian president last month. Putin and other officials have cited strategic interests as well as the protection of ethnic Russians in making the case for intervention. Russia leases a major navy base there.

The Western debate over how strongly to penalize Russia is important given that neither the U.S. nor Europe is advocating the use of force. The U.S. military has stepped up joint aviation training with Polish forces and American participation in NATO’s air-policing mission in its Baltic countries. But the Pentagon, like its NATO partners, has strictly ruled out military options.

In the latest threatening move Thursday, Crimean lawmakers voted 78-0 to schedule a referendum on March 16 on whether the region should secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Obama said such a vote would “violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law.” Because Ukraine is a member of the United Nations, any action that is unconstitutional in Ukraine would be considered illegitimate in international law.

But the West supported Kosovo’s independence six years ago, which included no consent by Serbia’s government and occurred despite Russian objections, Obama might have been trying to differentiate Ukraine’s situation by arguing that borders shouldn’t be “redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”

The U.S. sanctions push has prompted a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and most Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

The House of Representatives voted 385-23 on Thursday in favor of the first U.S. aid bill for Ukraine’s fledgling government, following on an Obama administration promise of $1 billion in loan guarantees. The House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved a separate resolution condemning Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea and urging visa, financial and trade sanctions. Senators are at work on a larger bill putting together all elements of a U.S. response and hope to introduce the legislation next week.

The EU offered $15 billion in aid to help Ukraine’s cash-depleted economy on Wednesday, still far short of the $35 billion that Ukraine’s government says it needs in bailout loans through next year. The U.S., EU and others are trying to work out a package with the International Monetary Fund.

Showing greater caution than Obama on sanctions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said European penalties against Russia depend “on how the diplomatic process progresses.” EU President Herman Van Rompuy said travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of an EU-Russia summit could still come. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk acknowledged “no enthusiasm” in Europe for economic sanctions.

Western leaders fear Russia is becoming entrenched in Crimea and could turn its focus to Ukraine’s industrial heart in the east, where Russian speakers similarly are a majority. Central and Eastern European countries that lived for decades under the Soviet Union’s domination are especially sensitive to the threat. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite warned, “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries.”

For the U.S. and its allies, the specter of Georgia’s 2008 schism looms large. After a nine-day war between Russia and Georgia’s then pro-Western government, the Kremlin supported two regions in breaking away from Georgia. Most of the world doesn’t recognize their independence, but Russia protects their autonomy. Then, as now, the U.S. and EU reaction was limited in scope and included no military moves. In the United States, Obama initiated a “reset” of ties with Russia less than a year later.

With Ukraine at risk of a similar fate, the U.S. has suspended talks on an investment treaty with Russia. NATO has halted military cooperation with Russia and has decided to review all aspects of the relationship with Moscow. The U.S. and European countries have halted preparations for a planned June summit in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

But so far Putin hasn’t budged. His government claims that Viktor Yanukovych, the ousted president, remains the leader of Ukraine. The pro-Russian Yanukovych fled to a location near Moscow for protection.

Also Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry met again with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Kerry stressed a need for a direct Russian-Ukrainian dialogue and the importance of allowing international monitors into Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Diplomatic progress appeared elusive.

___

Lara Jakes reported from Rome. AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and AP Diplomatic Writer Matthew Lee in Washington and AP writers Juergen Baetz and Mike Corder in Brussels and Yuras Karmanau in Simferopol, Ukraine, contributed to this report.

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