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Crimean Authorities Vote to Secede from Ukraine, Popular Referendum Set for March 16

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As I wrote in these pages on Monday, "Ultimately, The Breakup and Partition of Ukraine May Be the Only Viable Solution to Ending the Crisis", OPEDNEWS, March 3, 2014, fast moving political developments in the Ukraine crisis are coming to a head, particularly plans to conduct a voter referendum in Crimea on March 16-moved up from March 30- calling for secession from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation- which yesterday was approved unanimously by the authorities in Crimea. Calls for similar referendums in eastern Ukraine have been heard most recently in the city of Donetsk.

  In response to the call for a referendum in Crimea in 10 days, President Obama called it an "illegal order under the Ukrainian Constitution and against international law".

That the American president, with a stern face can condemn others for violating international law is so ludicrous considering the U.S. violates international law with impunity-think Iraq as the most obvious case- it is beyond belief the president's words could carry any credibility in the eyes of others in the world.

Nevertheless, despite the American president's "cautionary" remarks and the objections from the current rump government in Kiev-which also condemned the referendum in Crimea as unconstitutional- in all likelihood the referendum in Crimea will go on as planned.

Considering the majority of Crimean people are ethnic Russian it's all but a foregone conclusion they'll vote to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Thus no matter the bluster coming from the White House, the talk of placing sanctions on Russia or other "ultimatums" attempting to punish Putin for his moves in Crimea it appears mostly all for naught. Germany and much of Europe are dependent on Russian natural gas along with billions in trade between them. So beyond U.S. prodding the E.U. is unlikely to go along with any harsh sanctions.

As to the coming referendum in Crimea, Putin and the Russian's are mostly mum and see no need to comment beyond saying they support the aspirations of the ethnic Russian's in Ukraine and he has said there is no need to enter Ukraine militarily.

Let's remember, securing Crimea was done by Russian troops already legally stationed in Sevastopol as part of the Russian Black Sea fleet. They took control after the western inspired coup that overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych and authorities in Crimea requested Putin to intervene to protect the ethnic Russians in the Crimean peninsula. So reports of a Russian outside invasion force entering Crimea as reported by western media was completely erroneous.  

At this point in time, whatever the outcome of the referendum in Crimea in 10 days or possibly later in eastern Ukraine, any final solution to the entire Ukraine crisis must be done with diplomacy involving the E.U, the U.S. and the current government in Kiev representing the people in western Ukraine along with Russia, the secessionists in Crimea and representatives of the people in eastern Ukraine.

From here a final diplomatic outcome could have Kiev and western Ukraine become a part of Europe as seems to be their want while people in Crimea and eastern Ukraine should be allowed determine their own political destiny whether to remain in Ukraine or secede and become part of Russia. But finally in order to satisfy legitimate Russian concerns, Ukraine should never be considered for membership in NATO and never have nuclear weapons on its territory. That would appear to be the "redline" Putin would demand in any negotiated settlement.

Whether at some point, Ukraine requests membership in the E.U., that's another matter which should be left to the future.

There's been too much over-reaction, bluster, threats and ultimatums from the west to Putin's move in Crimea, to say nothing of the junta currently reigning in Kiev.

Only hard, realistic diplomacy will end the crisis in Ukraine. It's time to do just that.

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