Editorial: Protecting the Crimean people

A solution should not be drawn out

By TNH Editorial Staff
On March 18, 2014

In the weeks and days leading up to the Sochi Olympics - and even during the Olympics - there was much speculation and criticism of Russia, the country's preparedness, human rights issues, and safety concerns. And despite the beliefs of many that Russia would not complete all of its work in time for the ceremonies and that Sochi, with its proximity to nations with ongoing violence and political unrest, was not a safe locale for athletes, their families and Olympic attendees, the two weeks passed without any major issues.

However, in the days following the closing ceremonies, President Vladimir Putin has tarnished the image of his country that he worked so diligently to depict during the Olympics to the rest of the world as an advanced, well-prepared, growing nation.

The closing ceremonies were held on Feb. 23, 2014; before the end of the month, unidentified troops - later recognized as Russian troops - were on the streets in Crimea, Ukraine after months of turmoil in the country.

In the weeks following, the military and political affairs in Crimea involving Russia, Ukraine and the international community have escalated drastically, with President Barack Obama condemning the invasive actions of Russia throughout the situation.

On Sunday, a vote was held in Crimea to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia; Crimeans reportedly voted overwhelmingly to secede, at 97 percent for the secession.

On Monday, President Obama took the most severe step to date in this situation, imposing financial sanctions on individuals and advisors close to Putin, in opposition to Russia's recognition of this vote.

Obama asserted Monday that the wishes of the people of Ukraine are the priority: "As I told Prime Minister Yatsenyuk last week, the United States stands with the people of Ukraine and their right to determine their own destiny. ... And as we go forward, we'll continue to look at the range of ways we can help our Ukrainian friends achieve their universal rights and the security, prosperity and dignity that they deserve."

But with many declaring the current tension between the East and West as at its worst since the Cold War, can fiscal sanctions really affect Russia strongly enough that it is forced to recognize the wishes of the U.S., Ukraine and the international community?

This currently appears unlikely, as Russia recognizes the Crimean vote, also standing with the people of Ukraine - just in a contradictory way from the U.S. and international community.

Ultimately, the wishes of the Crimean people should be the top priority while adhering to the Ukrainian law that Crimea fell under until its recent vote recognized only by Russia.

As the situation currently stands - with Russia undaunted by the sanctions, the U.S. prepared to impose further actions sanctions, with Crimea nearly unanimously voting to secede from Ukraine, and with Ukrainian elections scheduled for May 25 - a resolution is far from being reached. To aid the people of Crimea, as President Obama has said is the goal of the United States, effective actions should be taken quickly. Too often, political objectives draw out tensions and lead to further unrest and violence; there is no reason for this to escalate and occur in Crimea. A solution will not come easily without negotiation between all nations involved, but it needs to come soon to protect the people of Crimea.

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