White House Protests Crimea 'Landslide' Vote While Kremlin Hints at 'Protecting' More Territory
The White House referred to Crimea's "referendum" on joining Russia in quotation marks today as exit polls showed a landslide in favor of Vladimir Putin.
Many Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars boycotted the vote in protest. Broadcast news crews witnessed some voters dropping in more than one ballot. Pro-Russia Crimeans partied around a statue of Lenin in Sevastopol before ballots were counted.
The paper ballot offered no checkbox for Crimeans choosing to stay with Ukraine.
"The United States has steadfastly supported the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine since it declared its independence in 1991, and we reject the 'referendum' that took place today in the Crimean region of Ukraine. This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law," White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
"No decisions should be made about the future of Ukraine without the Ukrainian government. Moreover, this vote was not necessary. The Ukrainian government has made clear its willingness to discuss increased autonomy for Crimea, and the presidential elections planned for May 25 provide a legitimate opportunity for all Ukrainians to make their voices heard on the future of their country."
Carney noted that Russia "spurned" their calls for international monitors to observe the referendum and escalated military intervention.
"Russia’s actions are dangerous and destabilizing. The UN Security Council recognized this in a vote yesterday that only Russia opposed. As the United States and our allies have made clear, military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia – not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions," he continued.
"In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand quietly by while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another. We call on all members of the international community to continue to condemn such actions, to take concrete steps to impose costs, and to stand together in support of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty."
The Kremlin said German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin talked on the phone today, with an ominous hint of Russia moving in on more Ukrainian territory under the guise of protecting ethnic Russians.
"President Putin pointed out that the Crimean people express their will in full accordance with international law, in particular, article 1 of the United Nations Charter that sets forth the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. It has been stressed that Russia will respect the Crimean people’s choice," the Kremlin statement said.
"Mr Putin also expressed concern over tensions in eastern and south-eastern parts of Ukraine being heated up by radical groups with the connivance of current Kiev authorities."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on CNN this morning that he was betting on Russia getting 70 percent of the vote in the Crimea referendum, while the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was betting 80 percent. Exit polls have said 93 percent.
"Look, it is a bogus thing. We used to call it plebecide in the days of Hitler and Stalin. It is a done deal," McCain said.
"Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country. It's kleptocracy, it's corruption, it's a nation that's really only dependent upon oil and gas for their economy. And so economic sanctions are important."
House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said in a statement that Congress is on board.
“The phony referendum in Crimea is a throwback to the Soviet era. No vote occurring under military occupation deserves to be treated as legitimate. This referendum is clearly unconstitutional," Royce said. "Congress and the President must impose tough sanctions and other measures on those who have brought about this crisis. The Administration should be working overtime to help break Putin’s energy grip on Ukraine and eastern Europe.”
These Kerry-Lavrov talks look pretty hardcore - via gallery from Russian Embassy UK http://t.co/TaUGJZdYep pic.twitter.com/PZtBnOann1
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) March 16, 2014
Kerry, Lavrov debate over balls pic.twitter.com/2xJE6ossa5
— Bridget Johnson (@Bridget_PJM) March 16, 2014
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