Angela Merkel of Germany and David Cameron of the United Kingdom spoke on the phone Sunday with Vladimir Putin telling him that a Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia was illegal and violated Ukraine's constitution, according to a report from Reuters.
After Putin declared this past week to the world that Russia had the right to invade Crimea to protect Russian residents, President Obama spoke twice with him during the week. Obama made the same declaration as his European counterparts that the Moscow backed plan to accept Crimea into Russia was a violation of International Law.
Putin told Obama last Thursday and again today on the phone with Merkel and Cameron steps taken by authorities in Crimea were ‘based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula's population.’
Merkel has been careful till today in speaking with Putin, since Germany is dependent on gas and oil from Russia. She urged Western partners to give Putin more time before moving against Moscow with tough economic sanctions.
Today she spoke of the German government statement, however, that the referendum of Moscow's position to accept Crimea was illegal: ‘Holding it violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law.’
After the phone call with Merkel and Cameron the Kremlin issued a statement that ‘Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin underlined in particular that the steps taken by Crimea's legitimate authorities are based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula's population.
Merkel also regretted the lack of progress on forming an ‘international contact group’ to seek a political solution to the Ukraine and still wanted this to occur as soon as possible after a week of no progress in negotiations.
On the phone Sunday also with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, Merkel gained agreement with him that Ukraine's sovereignty must be preserved.
At a Ukrainian military base at Yevpatoriya on the coast of western Crimea there were reports that the Russian forces had issued an ultimatum to surrender or be forced to surrender weapons in a psychological game of pressure. As ultimatums pass without action across Crimea it is a game of wits.
‘They are putting psychological pressure on us. It is not the first ultimatum,’ Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Lomaka told Reuters by telephone, saying the Russian forces would not allow him out of the base. ‘We have no fight with them, but we are not going to hand over our weapons to soldiers of the Russian Federation.’
The White House released a statement on Saturday that Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk will hold talks with President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday on how to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis.
While Ukranian supporters in Simferopol, Crimea, held yellow-blue flags and were chanting, ‘Glory to Ukraine' at the monument of Ukranian poet Taras Shevchenko, there were the opposition of Crimean supporters waving flags of red, white and blue chanting for Russia across town on Sunday, recorded by Reuters.
In a show of support, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly Russia’s richest man, who was released last year by presidential pardon after a decade in prison travelled to Independence Square in Kiev to join the people. He told them, ‘There are no fascists or neo-Nazis here, or at least there are no more than there are on the streets of Moscow and St Petersburg.’ People in Crimea have received propaganda that the interim government is fascist.
‘I want you to know there is another Russia,’ said Khodorkovsky, his voice shaking with emotion. He had spent a decade in prison where he was sent on dubious charges during Putin’s first period as President and was released by Putin as he returned to office secure as President again. Khordorkovsky understood their struggle to build a new government after the protestors were able to oust Yanukovych from office.
To view more about the situation in Ukraine and Crimea see the list below in the Author’s suggestions and view the video atop this article of Ukrainian support outside The White House on Saturday.
Twitter: Victoria Wagner@victoriaross888