Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 12.05.2018
On March 18, Russia conducted an illegal so-called ‘election’ on the territory of Ukraine, in Crimea. On May 8 the European Union sanctioned the organizers for undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014 and subsequently occupied Crimea and part of Donbas. For over four years Russia has been waging trench warfare against Ukrainian defenders in Donbas and committing grave violations of human rights against the captive population of Crimea and Donbas.
On 18 September 2016 Russia conducted an illegal so-called ‘election’ in temporarily occupied Ukrainian Crimea for the Russian Duma. Six people were claimed to have been ‘elected’ from Ukraine’s Crimea to the foreign legislative body in Moscow. Dmitry Belik, Andrey Kozenko, Konstantin Bakharev, Svetlana Savchenko, Ruslan Balbek, and Pavel Shperov were placed under restrictive sanctions by the European Union, the United States, and Canada. The EU, the US, and Canada adhere to the policy of non-recognition of Russia’s so-called ‘annexation’ of Crimea, in accordance with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014.
If the conduct of a Russian parliamentary ‘election’ in Crimea in 2016 led to sanctions, then it is only logical and consistent for the conduct of a Russian presidential ‘election’ in Crimea in 2018 to lead to sanctions. That is why on March 19 Ukraine presented a list of 140 organizers of the so-called Russian presidential ‘election’ in Ukrainian Crimea to the foreign ministers of the EU.
On May 10, President Petro Porshenko of Ukraine met with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Emmanuel Macron of France, in Aachen, Germany. President Poroshenko called for a new set of sanctions on the organizers of the illegal Russian presidential ‘elections’ in occupied Crimea: “Sanctions should be prolonged while new, additional sanctions should be introduced, especially for those who took part in the organization and holding of elections in Crimea, the election of the president of the Russian Federation – illegal Crimea elections, as evidenced by a number of statements by authoritative international organizations and Ukraine.”
On May 11, President Poroshenko announced that new EU sanctions had been decided upon and imposed on organizers of the illegal ‘election’ in Crimea. At a joint press conference in Kyiv with the President of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, President Poroshenko said: “We just received a message that as a result of our intensive coordination with our partners in the EU, on 8 May, the Committee of Permanent Representatives of the EU adopted a decision on the introduction of restrictive measures in connection with the undermining of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. This legal act in the list of individual sanctions added those persons who took direct part in the organization and holding of illegal elections for the President of the Russian Federation on the territory of Crimea.”
EU sanctions on the organizers of the illegal ‘election’ in Crimea are consistent with existing sanctions on the illegal ‘deputies’ from Crimea. Crimea is Ukraine, and it is impossible for a foreign country, Russia, to hold elections there. It is now time for the United States and Canada to show the same consistency. The US and Canada also sanctioned the six illegal Crimea ‘deputies’ and also adhere to the policy of non-recognition of the so-called ‘annexation’ of Ukrainian Crimea to the Russian Federation. On April 6 the US sanctioned Russian individuals and entities under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. To its great shame, Canada has sanctioned no one under the Special Economic Measures Act (Russia Regulations) since 18 March 2016. Canada has sanctioned no one under the Special Economic Measures Act (Ukraine Regulations) since 28 November 2016 – the six fake Duma deputies from Crimea and a few others.
Sanctions against Russia for invading Ukraine must be expanded in scope and sharpened in severity. The EU has done the right thing by sanctioning the organizers of the illegal election in Crimea. The US and Canada and every other civilized countries must follow the lead of the EU. Make Putin pay for undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.