The province of Crimea recently voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, according to The New York Times and Time.
In a public referendum carried by the province on Sunday, March 16, approximately 95 percent of Crimean voters expressed interest in leaving Ukraine and becoming a part of Russia. According to Time, Russian warships circled Crimea during the vote, claiming to protect the predominantly Russian peninsula from Ukrainian troops.
Western leaders, including President Barack Obama, expressed disappointment in Crimea’s referendum, according to The New York Times.
“The referendum in Crimea was a clear violation of Ukrainian constitutions and international law, and it will not be recognized by the international community,” President Obama said in a statement provided by the White House on Monday, March 17.
President Obama also mentioned that he would impose more sanctions on Russia should the country choose to annex Crimea or even continue its military interference in Ukraine. Time reported that White House press secretary Jay Carney believed that the annexation of Russia destroys Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence that it declared back in 1991.
“This referendum is contrary to Ukraine’s constitution, and the international community will not recognize the results of a poll administered under threats of violence and intimidation from a Russian military intervention that violates international law,” Carney said, according to Time.
Ukrainian officials and citizens are not too thrilled about Crimea’s referendum, as one might expect. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called the peninsula’s overwhelming vote “a circus performance,” Time reported.
“Military intervention and violation of international law will bring increasing costs for Russia — not only due to measures imposed by the United States and our allies but also as a direct result of Russia’s own destabilizing actions,” Yatsenuyk said.
According to The New York Times, President Obama said that he will partner with Congress to support Ukraine economically and improve their security. In the meantime, though, Western leaders and Ukraine wait for Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s decision.