Yesterday Crimea voted overwhelming to leave Ukraine and today announced its desire to join the Russian Federation. The referendum, universally denounced as illegal, has isolated Russia with a UN Security Council vote on the issue on Saturday.
It remains to be seen whether Russia’s ambitions stop with Crimea. Despite claiming otherwise since the end of last week, Russia has been amassing troops on the Ukrainian border.
With the European Union expected to announce sanctions against Russia today, the West should ensure that:
- It suspends all existing trade negotiations with Russia, in particular those relating to military supplies;
- It freezes the assets and denies visas to members of the Russia parliament who supported the illegal invasion into Crimea;
- It halts cooperation with Russia and international bodies, including the G8, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Executive Director of the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Alan Mendoza, said: “We are now entering the next stage of this conflict, which has as much to do with Vladimir Putin’s desire to reshape the global order as it does the fate of Ukraine.
“While Putin is seeking to make himself the indispensable arbiter of events in Ukraine, his greater project is to disrupt the idea that Western values will inevitably triumph in the fullness of time. He is likely to strike in Eastern Ukraine next, and his salami slicing of a European country is designed to show the return of 19th Century balance of power considerations by highlighting our impotence in what he believes to be his sphere of influence.
“If we now fail to respond, our humiliation – and his triumph – will be complete.”