Russia is denying a Crimean occupation while expanding efforts to cut Crimea off from the rest of Ukraine. The stepped-up actions are in anticipation of Sunday’s referendum. If the Crimean citizens vote on Sunday to sever from Ukraine, Russia will instantly declare Crimea to be an independent, sovereign nation. According to a March 12 New York Times article, the Crimean parliament is expected to ask to become part of Russia.
Crimea’s border outposts were taken over by Russian troops at the beginning of the occupation. Now the Russians have shut down the main airport at Simferopol and is only allowing flights between Crimea and Russia.
The Ukrainian constitution requires approval by Ukraine’s national parliament if Crimea votes to secede. This is not likely to happen. Russia intends to neutralize the national parliament by citing United Nations and other international court precedents. In 2010, for example, the International Court of Justice ruled in favor of Kosovo’s self imposed independence from Serbia in 2008.
Ironically, the U.S. backed Kosovo’s bid for independence while Russia opposed it.
Russia calls the growing evidence of a Ukraine Occupation "nonsense." Despite photos and videos of well-outfitted soldiers occupying the Crimean peninsula, both the Defense Minister and foreign minister of Russia called the evidence “nonsense.” There is no denying the huge number of masked men or the armored vehicles bearing Russian military plates. According to a March 5 New York Times article, the most damning evidence came in the form of a viral video where soldiers located close to Russia actually admitted that they were Russians.
Why the obvious lie? Russia is fully aware that the large contingent of Russian troops in Crimea constitute an obvious violation of just about every kind of international law.
Both Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov said,
“If you mean the self-defense units created by the inhabitants of Crimea, we give them no orders, they take no orders from us.”
One concern is that Russia might not stop at Crimea and may move farther east into Ukraine, exploiting Ukraine’s weak military along the way.