by Stephen Lendman
On Monday, he endorsed Crimean independence. He signed a decree doing so. It recognizes Sevastopol as a city with "special autonomous status" within the Republic of Crimea.
It took effect immediately on signing. It kickstarted the reunification process.
On Tuesday, Putin met with Crimean officials in Moscow. They signed the reunification treaty. Russian upper house Federation Council and lower house State Duma members overwhelmingly support it.
Crimeans are going home. Reunification affirms it. They're heading inexorably toward joining Russia.
Doing so is truly historic. It's important. It's similar to when Berlin's Wall fell. Around 92% of Russians support union. More on Tuesday's historic day below.
On Sunday, Crimeans chose overwhelmingly to join Russia. A previous article discussed their historic vote.
Crimean authorities showed how real democracy works, it said. International observers praised the process.
Crimeans spoke. They reject Kiev putschists. One voter perhaps spoke for others, saying: "We want to go home."
On March 17, The Crimean News Agency said an "extraordinary plenary session" was held. Crimea's parliament adopted a resolution "On the independence of Crimea."
It proclaimed Crimea "an independent sovereign state - the Republic of Crimea, in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status."
It asked UN authorities and world nations to recognize its independence.
It "revoke(d) the applicability of Ukrainian legislation" and Kiev "state bodies." Ukraine's "powers, property and funds of (its) bodies are transferred to…the Republic of Crimea."
It asked Russian Federation authorities for accession with the status of republic.
On Monday, Vladimir Putin expressed support for Crimean independence. He signed a decree recognizing it. It said:
"Considering the will of the peoples of Crimea expressed at the all-Crimea referendum on March 16, 2014, I hereby decree that the Republic of Crimea, where the city of Sevastopol has a special status, be recognised as a sovereign and independent state."
His approval kick-started accession. On March 18, Russia's lower house State Duma issued a statement on Crimea. A total of 441 of its 450 members expressed support, saying:
"Welcoming the expression of will by the Crimean people at the March 16 referendum on accession of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to Russia, the State Duma proceeds from the standpoint that the government bodies operating on the territory of Crimea will be maintaining inter-faith accord and language diversity of the republic."
"The State Duma will contribute to ensuring the safety of all people staying in Crimea, regardless of their citizenship, nationality, language or religion, and to observing their legitimate rights and freedoms."
Duma Deputy Speaker Sergei Neverov said: "All necessary legal decisions following (Crimea's) referendum will be adopted the most promptly."
"Results of the referendum in Crimea have demonstrated clearly that Crimea's people see their future only with the republic being a part of the Russian Federation."
"(T)he people have voted for the reunification of the people who have always lived in one country."
"We share the future - in this country, where laws are observed, where rights and freedoms are guaranteed, where the leader is strong, and whose principal position made it possible to restore the historic justice."
Russia's upper house Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvineko endorsed Crimea's accession.
"We shall be acting strictly in compliance with the law," she said. "The procedure will not take long. All that can be done rather promptly."
On Monday, Crimean officials traveled to Moscow to discuss accession. Parliament Speaker Volodmyra Konstantynov said Ukrainian military forces in Crimea have a choice.
They can either serve in Crimea's defense forces or "continue outside the borders of Crimea in the Ukrainian" military.
Obama responded to Putin's support for Crimean independence as expected.
A White House statement said he "emphasized that Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in co-ordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its action."
On Monday, he and EU partners imposed meaningless sanctions. Irresponsible slaps on the wrist. Typical Western bullying.
Obama issued an Executive Order "Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine."
He ludicrously accused targeted Russian and Crimean officials of:
• "undermin(ing) democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine;"
None whatever exist. Illegitimate putschists rule.
• "threaten(ing) its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity;"
Washington, EU partners, and Kiev fascists alone threaten all of the above.
• "contribut(ing) to the misappropriation of its assets, and thereby constitut(ing) an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."
No assets were misappropriated. No threat to US national security exists. Washington, EU partners, Israel, and other rogue partners alone threaten world security.
Washington targeted seven Russian and four Crimean officials. Brussels named 21 overall. Individuals named include:
Vladislav Surkov: former First Deputy of the Chief of the Russian Presidential Administration and Russian Deputy Prime Minister.
Sergei Glazyev: former State Duma minister and 2004 presidential candidate; he's nominally responsible for Moscow's relations with Ukraine.
Leonid Slutsky: chairman of the State Duma Committee on the "Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Eurasian Integration and links with compatriots."
He's State Duma Committee on International Affairs first deputy chairman.
Andrei Klishas: Russian upper house Federation Council Constitutional Law, Judicial and Legal Affairs Committee chairman.
Valentina Matviyenko: Federation Council Chairwoman. Russia's highest-ranking female politician. Former St. Petersburg Governor.
Dmitry Rogozin: Deputy Russian Prime Minister in charge of defense and space. Former ambassador to NATO.
Yelena Mizulina: Lawyer, professor and State Duma Committee on Family, Women and Children Affairs chairwoman.
Sergei Aksyonov: Republic of Crimea Prime Minister.
Vladimir Konstantinov: Republic of Crimea parliament speaker.
Viktor Medvedchuk: pro-Russian Ukrainian Choice party chairman. Targeted also for "materially assist(ing), sponsor(ing), or provid(ing) financial, material, or technological support for Yanukovych."
Viktor Yanukovych: Ukraine's democratically elected president.
Sergei Zheleznyak: Russian State Duma deputy speaker.
Sergei Mironov: Former Federation Council chairman. Current A Just Russia party head and parliamentarian.
Pyotr Zima: Crimean security chief.
Nikolai Ryzhkov: Federation Council Belgorod region representative:
Rustam Temirgaliev: Crimean First Vice-Premier.
Deniz Berezovsky: Crimean Navy Commander. He reject Kiev putschists. He resigned as Ukraine navel head. He switched his allegiance to Crimea.
Aleksei Chaliy: Sevastopol mayor.
Yuri Zherebtsov: advisor to Crimean parliament speaker Konstantinov.
Sergei Tsekov: Crimean Russian Community head.
Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Vitko: Russian Black Sea Fleet commander.
Viktor Zero: Russian Federation Council Defense Committee head.
Vladimir Dzhabarov: Federation Council International Affairs first deputy chairman.
Evgeny Bushmin: Federation Council Vice-Speaker.
Alexander Totoonov: Federation Council Science, Education, Culture and Information Policy member.
Oleg Panteleyev: Federation Council Regulation and Organization of Parliamentary Activity first deputy chairman.
Alexander Galkin: Russian Southern Military District commander.
Anatoly Sidorov: Russian Western Military District commander.
Witness to history: At 3PM Moscow time, Putin addressed Russia's upper house Federation Council.
He endorsed reuniting Crimea with Russia. He signed a reunification treaty. He cited overwhelming Crimean support.
He said Crimea's history, culture, religious, and spiritual ties bind it with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. It's vital to ensure the rights of all Crimeans, he stressed.
Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar will be official languages.
"I am submitting and asking the Federal Assembly to consider a constitutional bill on accepting two new constituent regions as part of the Russian Federation - the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol," he said.
"The political decision is up to Russia itself," he added. "It can only be based on the people's will. Only the people are its source of power."
Russia seeks no further divisions in Ukraine, he stressed. "I want you to hear me, dear friends," he continued.
"Don't believe those who scare you with Russia, who are shouting that other regions will follow Crimea. We don't want a division of Ukraine. We don't need that."
"As for Crimea, it has always been and it will remain Russian, Ukrainian, and Crimean Tatar."
"I believe that Europeans, firstly Germans, will understand me."
During East and West Germany reunification talks, "at expert, but very high levels, representatives of not all countries, who were Germany's allies, supported the very idea of unification."
"Our country, on the contrary, supported explicitly and sincerely the aspiration of Germans for national unity."
"I am certain that you have not forgotten this and I count that German citizens will support the aspiration of the Russian world and historical Russia to restore unity."
He thanked China for "considering the situation concerning Ukraine and Crimea in its entire historical and political complexity."
"We highly appreciate India's constraint and objectivity," he said.
"Relations with Ukraine and its fraternal people are and will remain of key and fundamental importance for us. It's no exaggeration." he stressed.
"It is true that the Russian president has received the right from the upper house of parliament to use the armed forces in Ukraine," he said.
"Strictly speaking, the president has not even used this right so far. The Russian military did not enter Crimea."
"The troops were there already in compliance with an international agreement."
"It is true that we have strengthened our grouping. But I would like to make a point everyone should know and hear: we have not even surpassed the limit of 25,000 troops - the assigned strength of our armed forces in the Crimea. There was just no need in that," he stressed.
He called Kiev putschists "fascists, neo-Nazis and anti-semites."
"Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities. It's only up to Ukrainians themselves to restore order in their country."
"In the practical application of policies, our western partners - the United States first and foremost - prefer to be guided not by international law, but by the right of strength."
"They believe in their exceptionalism, that they are allowed to decide on the fate of the world, that they are always right."
He cited lawless US-led aggression in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. He mentioned US-orchestrated "colored revolutions in Eurasia and elsewhere.
Russia wants diplomatic dialogue, he stressed. Washington and EU partners want war.
"They were cheating us once more, took decisions behind out back, (and) presented us with a fait accompli."
"They are constantly trying to corner us in retaliation for our having an independent position, for defending it, for calling things by their names and not being hypocritical."
"Everything has its limits, and in Ukraine our western partners crossed the red line."
"They acted brutally, irresponsibly and unprofessionally."
"Russia is an independent and active participant of international relations. Just like any nation it has national interests that must be taken into consideration and respected."
Kiev putschists want NATO membership, they said. Admitting them would pose an imminent threat to Russia, Putin stressed.
"We stand against having a military organization meddling in our backyard, next to our homeland or in the territories that are historically ours."
"I just cannot imagine visiting NATO sailors in Sevastopol. Most of them are fine lads, by the way. But rather let them visit us in Sevastopol than the other way around."
Crimea's referendum complied fully with international law, he said. Russia respects its results.
It does so legitimately. It does forthrightly. It's the right thing to do. UN Charter principles affirm self-determination for all people.
The Kremlin now considers Crimea part of Russia. Its web site said:
"(T)he Republic of Crimea is regarded as accepted in the Russian Federation from the date of the (treaty) signing."
On September 14, Crimean and Sevastopol elections will be held. Until then, the Crimea State Council and Sevastopol Legislative Assembly will serve as governmental bodies.
Crimean union with Russia will undergo a transition period. It will last until January 1, 2015.
According to the Kremlin, its purpose is to "settle all issues relating to the integration of new regions of Russia [the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol in the economic, financial, credit, and legal systems of Russia, and also in the Russian public administration system."
From now until January 1, 2014, "(i)ssues relating to conscription and military service on the territory of the Republic of Crimea and the federal-status city of Sevastopol" will be resolved.
Russian citizens conscripted in Crimea and Sevastopol will serve there until 2016.
Crimean Ukrainians may either choose Russian or Ukrainian citizenship. They have one month to decide.
According to the Kremlin's web site:
"As of the day of the admission of the Republic of Crimea to Russia and the formation of new Russian constituent regions, the Ukrainian citizens and non-citizens permanently residing in the Republic of Crimea and in the federal city of Sevastopol are recognized as Russian citizens."
Except for Crimeans "who within one month from this day express their wish to retain their current citizenship for themselves and their underage children or to remain persons without citizenship."
Following Crimea's union with Russia, Black Sea and Sea of Azov maritime borders will be based on international law.
"The land border of the Republic of the Crimea adjacent to the territory of Ukraine shall be deemed the border of the Russian Federation."
Treaty terms will apply temporarily until they officially take effect.
It bears repeating. March 18 was historic. It'll long be remembered. Crimeans want union with Russia.
Putin and Moscow parliamentarians embrace them. Crimeans are going home.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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