Crimea referendum is ‘bogus’ as all roads lead east
Published Friday, March 14, 2014 12:29PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 16, 2014 2:06PM EDT
On Sunday people in Crimea will head to the polls and vote in a referendum, but unlike Canada’s most recent referendum in 1995, there is really only one answer – join Russia. The only option seems to be if they want to join Russia now or later.
“We already know what the result of the vote is, it’s a bogus referendum and it’s going to be a call for annexation to Russia,” says Dominique Arel, Chair of Ukrainian Studies at the University of Ottawa, to Kevin Newman Live. “He (Putin) is massing the troops…it seems he’s setting the stage for the unthinkable, that is the invasion of eastern Ukraine.”
Skip ahead to the 29-minute mark of the video above to see our full interview with Arel.
Arel says if Russian President Vladimir Putin continues moving troops into the region it will lead to an occupation, which hasn’t been seen in Europe since World War II.
If you are driving into Crimea’s this is what you are likely to see - a giant convoy of Russian troops.
Crimea is a peninsula that sticks out into the Black Sea and looks like it’s hanging on to the southern end of Ukraine with a thread. About 60 per cent of the region’s population is ethnic Russia. It was once a part of Russia, but became part of Ukraine during Soviet times.
Arel says people in Crimea have never really felt comfortable being a part of Russia and they had separatist movements in the 1990s.
Arel sees little problem with Crimea splitting apart from Ukraine, but he does take issue with the occupation. He says as long as it’s done peacefully and with negotiation there isn’t an issue, but the question right now is more about the occupation.
Top diplomats for Russia and the U.S. didn’t seem optimistic about negotiations as the two sides met Friday.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says Canada will contribute $220 million to help the country’s economy. Canada will also ignore the results of the referendum. “It doesn’t appear that the central government in Moscow is frankly listening to anyone,” says Baird.
No matter the results on Sunday, Arel says the real pressure is on eastern Ukraine. That area is also mostly Russo-centric and could be next on Putin’s hit list. “He (Putin) is putting enormous pressure on eastern Ukraine…it’s extremely unsettling.”
If you are just watching TV in Russia, you may get a much different picture of the situation. Reporters for the Kremlin backed English-language Russia Today reports there are no tanks or troops moving into the region.
Arel says, “The question is will Putin announce at the last minute that the vote is not about annexation, but greater autonomy within Ukraine.”