The takeover of Crimea by Russia is nearly complete. All that remains is the final vote on March 16. There would not be a vote if the outcome was uncertain.
Troops Install Minefields, Border Markers in Crimea
Bloomberg reports Pro-Russia Forces Occupy Ukraine as Separatist Vote Looms.
Pro-Russian forces advanced in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, ignoring Western calls to halt a military takeover before the region’s separatist referendum. The U.S. estimates Russia now has 20,000 troops confronting a smaller Ukrainian force there. Ukraine has stepped up its eastern border defenses in the worst standoff between it and the West since the Cold War.
Pro-Russian units planted minefields in the Kherson region, north of Crimea on Ukraine’s mainland, and began to install border markers between the two regions, news website Khersonskie Vesti reported today. Ukraine’s border control service said Russian forces now control 13 border bases as well as the ferry crossing across the Kerch Strait to Russia, preventing guards from inspecting trucks arriving in Crimea.
Authorities on the peninsula ordered an anti-aircraft regiment in the city of Yevpatoriya to lay down its arms or its base would be taken over, news service Interfax reported.
The peninsula, where Russian speakers comprise a majority, will join Russia once parliament in Moscow passes the necessary legislation and there’s nothing the West can do, according to Sergei Tsekov, the deputy speaker of Crimea’s parliament.
“There’s no comeback, and the U.S. or Europe can’t impede us,” Tsekov said by phone on March 7 from Moscow, where he met Russian officials to discuss the region’s future. “Crimea won’t be part of Ukraine anymore. There are no more options.”
The U.S. and European allies will impose sanctions if there isn’t a quick resolution, Obama said at the White House on March 6.