Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 20.03.2018
Russia held illegal presidential ‘elections’ in Crimea on March 18, despite being warned not to by every major Western democracy. In flagrant violation of international law, the foreign Muscovy regime compelled Ukrainians under occupation to participate in the sham voting that affirmed Putin. Now it is time for Russia to face the consequences of its crime.
On March 19, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over to European Union governments a list of 140 persons who were involved in the organization of the so-called Russian presidential election on the territory of Ukrainian Crimea that has been invaded and occupied by Russia. Spokesperson for the Ukrainian foreign affairs ministry, Mariana Betsa, said that the Ukrainian government considers this list to be be the foundation of sanctions against these individuals.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, was in Brussels meeting with EU officials and democratically-elected representatives, to stress the need for sanctions, and “actions not word” in the face of Russia’s aggression and illegal ‘election’ in Crimea. The official Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Twitter account had this to say: “Russia undermines the very foundations of our democratic institutions. It's not just about coordinated communications anymore, but it is high time for joint actions against Russian aggression [that is] targeted at all of us.” As well as pushing for sanctions against the 140 instigators of the illegal so-called ‘election’ in Crimea, Minister Klimkin met with British officials on closer security co-operation against the Russian chemical warfare and cyber threat, and he spoke about the need to cancel the Nord Stream 2 scheme as a way to counter the Russian threat to Europe’s energy security.
The EU doesn’t recognize the Russian presidential elections in Crimea. Canada and the United States also formally reject the idea that a Russian election can be held on the territory of Ukraine. But nice words – refusing to recognize the legitimacy of what Russia tried to pull off in Crimea – must now be transformed into effective actions, like sanctions. Ukrainian diplomacy is on very solid ground in proposing that the 140 Crimea election malefactors be added to sanctions lists. The EU, Canada and the United States put six so-called Russian deputies of the State Duma on their respective sanctions lists, after Russia purported to conduct parliamentary elections for the Russian parliament on the territory of Ukraine on 18 September 2016.
The EU is using the right words. Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for EU ‘External Action,’ made a statement on March 19: “The European Union does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and therefore does not recognise the holding of elections in the Crimean peninsula. The OSCE/ODIHR observers did not conduct any activities in these illegally-annexed territories, participation of EU Member States' diplomats in observation activities within the framework of the OSCE/ODIHR EOM was also limited to the recognised territory of the Russian Federation. The EU remains unwavering in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” Now it is time for the EU (and Canada and the US) to take the right actions. That means new sanctions.
The people involved in Russia’s illegal parliamentary elections of 2016 in Crimea were sanctioned. The people involved in Russia’s illegal presidential elections of 2018 in Crimea must be sanctioned. Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia’s occupation of Crimea and Donbas is completely illegitimate. Individuals and entities acting against Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea and Donbas and every part of Ukraine must be sanctioned because they constitute a grave threat to international peace and security. The EU, Canada and the US cannot reward Putin’s illegal actions in Ukrainian Crimea: the 140 people on Ukraine’s list must be sanctioned.