Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of the Soviet Union, has proclaimed Crimea’s vote to join Russia as a “happy event.”
In comments published on Russian news website Slon.ru, Gorbachev supported the referendum vote that will lead to the annexation of Crimea, saying it was a just and accurate reflection of Crimean residents’ free will.
Indeed, Gorbachev sees the vote and its repercussions as the righting of a Soviet-era wrong.
“Earlier Crimea was merged with Ukraine under Soviet laws, to be more exact by the [Communist] party’s laws, without asking the people, and now the people have decided to correct that mistake. This should be welcomed instead of declaring sanctions,” he said on Monday.
Gorbachev added that the Crimean referendum may set a precedent for Russian-speaking residents of eastern Ukraine.
Crimea’s Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliev has said the same thing: “I think the second step will be east Ukraine.”
“I think that in the east of Ukraine approximately 70 percent, 75 percent want to join to Russia,” Temirgaliev added, referencing studies performed by unnamed sociologists.
Not everyone is as enthusiastic about the so-called resolution to the Crimean crisis. Some world leaders, including many in the United States, see the vote as one that was carried out under intimidation and the threat of violence.
— StateDept Live (@StateDeptLive) March 18, 2014
On Tuesday, while speaking to a group of university students at the State Department, Secretary of State John Kerry said the situation has generated a “nationalist fervor which could, in fact, infect in ways that could be very, very dangerous. All you have to do is go back and read in history of the lead up to World War II, and the passions that were released with that kind of nationalistic fervor.”
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 14, 2014
Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton had equally strong words about the Crimean situation and Moscow’s actions:
“What Putin did is illegal; it is against international law,” the former Secretary of State said in an address to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal on Tuesday.
“This is a clash of values, and it’s an effort by Putin to rewrite the boundaries of post-World War II Europe. And if he’s allowed to get away with that, then I think you’ll see a lot of other countries either directly facing Russian aggression or suborned with their political systems — so they’re so intimidated that, in effect, they are transformed into vassals, not sovereign democracies.”
We will not recognize result of poll held under threat of violence & intimidation from Russian military intervention that violates intl law.
— @NSCPress (@NSCPress) March 16, 2014
Obama: "We’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia." #Ukraine
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) March 17, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons