Kyiv, March 24, 2014. Vladimir Putin’s statements on the ‘reasonable’ military invasion and the ‘legitimate’ annexation of Ukrainian Crimea certainly did not convince the Western world and caused a virulent stream of economic sanctions against Russia by world’s leading economies. For instance, Putin’s arguments voiced at his recent press conference, held on March 17, 2014 were met with great doubt and later denounced by the Government of the United Kingdom.
In his official statement, the Russian President claimed that Crimea’s becoming part of the RF was legitimate and complied with all international treaties and conventions. The UK Government rebutted that argument: “not only did the referendum violate Ukraine’s Constitution, it was not in line with internationally agreed democratic procedures and best practices,” reads the official statement. Additionally, the UK pointed out the gunpoint threats, lack of transparency, absence of official observers, overabundance of Russian military on the peninsula and falsified referendum outcomes, which de facto undermined the legitimacy of the vote. Notably, the so-called referendum was “prepared” in mere 10 days’ time.
“Military forces of Russia have never entered Crimea: they were there in accordance with international agreement,” announced Vladimir Putin at his press conference. The reality, however, is quite the opposite. Thousands of Russian troops flooded the peninsula in late February: the Black Sea Fleet servicemen in violation of the Ukraine-Russia agreement left their military bases, while additional troops penetrated the territory having crossed the Ukraine state border. These men operate military vehicles with Russian license plates, carry Russian arms and even identify themselves as Russian soldiers to the local journalists. Yet the soldiers do not wear any identification signs on their uniform, the fact Putin’s Government reserves when disowning their troops. Notably, the gunmen in question violently sieged Ukrainian military base in Belbek on March 22, 2014.
While the facts speak the obvious, the Russian leader blatantly neglects the basic concepts of the international law. Before the military conflict reached the point of no return, German Chancellor Angela Merkel questioned if Putin “was in touch with reality”. On March 21, 2014 the European Union imposed visa sanctions and froze the assets of the 21 and later 12 additional Russian officials. Being the primary target for economic sanctions by world’s leading economies, Vladimir Putin yet remains loyal to his imperial beliefs.