The West Should not Interfere with Crimean Referendum

The USA and NATO made overt and clear-cut military threats to Russia to make it submissive

Vladimir Kozin – is a Head, Group of Advisers to the Director of Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, a Member of Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Professor of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences

During current Ukrainian developments the USA and NATO made overt and clear-cut military threats to Russia to make it submissive, and demanded that it should not support the announced referendum in Crimea. The USA has build up its military presence: Naval Forces in the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, and its Air Forces in Poland (dozens US F-16 fighter jets arrived), Lithuania (4 US F-15 fighter jets arrived), Latvia and Estonia.

 In the famous novel “Room at the Top” one of its heroes said: “I made my choice, once and for all”. So, in terms of the future fate of two million Crimean people (97% of them are Russian language speakers), wishing to separate from hostile and super-radical Maidan regime entrenched in Kiev illegally and with the use of arms, Moscow choice is the same – all Russia made its choice “once and for all”. Current massive rallies in Russia’s big cities testify this.

 Many people in the West have forgotten that Crimea was a part of the Russian Empire and the USSR for nearly 200 years (1783-1954), when Nikita Khruschev gave it as a “gift” to Ukraine illegally – without approval of the legitimate body that time – the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union.

So, the referendum in Crimea and Sevastopol will take place in due course – 16th March, 2014. Referendums in Crimea and Sevastopol are permitted by the active Ukrainian Constitution and by the Crimean Constitution of 1992. The latest public opinion polls shows that nearly 80% of potential voters will take part in the referendum, from 75% to 96% of them would probably say “Yes” to the admission of Crimea into Russia. The stronger outside pressure upon the Crimean population is made, the higher positive returns of the referendum will be. Two million Crimean people do not want to stay any single day under tyranny and intimidation stemming from Maidan’s Kiev. 97% of them are Russian speakers.

The West does not understand that the situation around Crimea is irreversible. It reached a point of “no return”. So, Crimean referendum will be held, like those scheduled this year in Catalonia and Scotland.

Southern and South-Eastern regions in Ukraine where more than 55% of their population speak Russian also do not want to leave under neo-Nazi rulers entrenched in Kiev. The US alone has spent $ 10 bln for training and inciting these “Maidan protesters”.

 Russia has been also accused of backing “separatists” in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and deploying thousands of troops there, though Moscow has denied many times that it is allegedly sending additional troops to Crimea. Such inappropriate terminology like “aggression”, “intrusion” and “occupation” by Russia of Crimea is being frequently used in the West to dramatize the situation. Sometimes the word “incursion” in the phrase “Russia's military incursion into the Crimea region” is used.

There is no Russian “aggression” in Crimea or Ukraine. It is widely known to many experts that Russian military troops are deployed in Crimea on the basis of Russo-Ukrainian accords signed in 1997 and 2010 on the Black Sea Fleet division and on Russian Black Sea Navy basing rights in Sevastopol and other areas in the Crimean Peninsula. These accords offer the right to Russia to send there up to 25.000 men, not more. No country has officially disputed this figure or these agreements. Even current Ukrainian ultra-radical Government has not withdrawn from these accords or cancelled them. The latest treaty (2010) stipulates that Russian Naval Forces and subsequent personnel will stay in Crimea till 2042.  This treaty even may be extended.

 It is important to stress that Moscow currently has stationed in Crimea 16.000 troops. So, it has the right even to increase its military contingent, but it has never used this right. The figure “16.000” was confirmed by current Ukrainian envoy to the UN at the recent UN Security Council debates on the Ukrainian issue. It is expedient to note that no single Russian soldier has ever crossed Ukrainian border, not a single inch of Ukrainian territory has been captured by Russia, and, thanks God, no Ukrainian or Russian soldier or sailor has been killed or wounded after the present drifting standoff began.

 As to December 5, 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Russia is fully committed to it, until current Ukrainian right-wing ultra-nationalistic leaders de facto and de jureobserve Ukraine’s non-nuclear status specified in item 5 of the Memorandum. Unfortunately, the opposite demands coming from Maidan Kiev – to proclaim Ukraine as a nuclear-weapon state – have been already voiced by radical MPs inside the Ukrainian Supreme Soviet (Verkhovna Rada). Lucky we all are that these demands have not been officially supported by the current “Government” in Kiev.

Such provocative statements may produce very negative impact upon the upcoming NPT PrepCom meeting. It is very sad that NATO nuclear powers (the UK, France and the USA) who have signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum have not criticized such dangerous and risky statements, being fully aware of the fact that Ukraine possesses nuclear arms delivery systems and its ultra-right-wing factions, especially “Right Sector” armed grouping, are threatening to “wipe out Russia from the ground”, “to fence Southern and South-Eastern regions in Ukraine with barbed wire” and “to bury Sevastopol under asphalt”. By the way, this faction have stolen nearly 140 men-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) “Igla” from military warehouses in Ukraine. These weapons as well as thousands assault rifles stolen by Maidan “protesters” from police HQs have not been returned to the authorities. They do not care about this case.

It is the USA, but not Russia, who is responsible for many problems that have embraced the entire Ukraine. It is Washington, rather than Moscow that has openly incited and carefully orchestrated the armed riots in Maidan and has brought to power unpredictable, failed and non-professional Kiev’s nationalists. Snipers from Maidan have killed both 74 Maidan protesters in the back and 16 policemen directly in chests. By interfering into internal Ukrainian affairs since 1992 and, especially, in 2003-2004 and 2013-2014 the USA have violated the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, the Paris Charter for a New Europe (1990) and the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (item 1 on honoring independence and sovereignty of Ukraine).

But every action has its own price. Sometimes unpredictably very, very  high…