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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Washington (AFP) – President Barack Obama warned Thursday that a referendum in Crimea on joining Russia would violate Ukraine’s constitution and international law.

The president spoke hours after the United States imposed visa bans on certain senior Russian officials and moved towards wider sanctions against individuals and entities in Moscow, to punish the Kremlin’s incursion into Ukraine.

“The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law,” Obama told reporters at the White House.

“Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine,” Obama said.

Earlier, the parliament in Crimea, under the de facto control of pro-Russian forces since the ousting of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to examine a request for their region to join the Russian Federation.

“In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” the U.S. president said.

Obama also said, on a day that the European Union also readied sanctions against Russia, that the world was united in its opposition to Russia’s action and in its support for Ukraine.

But he also argued there remained a way out for Russia, as talks continue between Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in the Europe.

Such a deal would see the world support elections in Ukraine in May, to allow international monitors into Ukraine and for Russian forces to keep their Black Sea bases, he said.

“But if this violation of international law continues, the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm,” Obama said.

AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan

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  • The Savage Hombre

    Just like its marxist, socialist, and communist ancestors, today’s liberalism is a death cult.

  • Dominick Vila

    President Obama is making a terrible mistake in making promises and proposing sanctions we cannot enforce. We simply don’t have the leverage needed to impose our will on Russia’s plans or actions, and we have more to lose from a worsening of relations with the 800 pound gorilla in the East than the benefits derived from banning the import Russian vodka and caviar. Russian imports account to less than half of one percent of our imports. A similar situation is true for Russian imports of American products. Moreover, Western Europe is more dependent on Russian natural gas than the sale of American products and services in that part of the world.
    Last, but not least, is the cynicism of a country that invaded Iraq and Afghanistan voicing outrage over the probability of Russia invading and seizing control of the Crimean Peninsula. The Crimean Peninsula was part of Russia until Nikita Khrushchev ceded it to Ukraine in the 1950s, presumably to solidify the support and allegiance of the latter to the former Soviet Union. The majority of the population in Crimea are ethnic Russians and members of the Russian Orthodox church. Nobody in that part of the world has plans to abandon mother Russia to become an ally of the USA, particularly at a time when we have nothing to offer other than speeches and empty promises.
    Hopefully President Obama will understand the impact of constant criticism of Russian actions, that to some extent emulate ours, and remember that the key to stability in the Persian Gulf and a successful end to the Syrian civil war, has a lot more to do on what Russia does than whatever we want or do. At this point, the best hope for an end to the diplomatic chaos we helped create is wisdom and courage by our Western European allies.