Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing – 6 March 2014

Crisis in Ukraine: Daily Briefing

6 March 2014


1. Situation in Crimea

Russian military units continue to blockade Ukrainian armed forces bases and headquarters in Crimea. The Crimean Parliament voted today to join Crimea to the Russian Federation, and to hold a referendum in Crimea on 16 March. The questions to be posed will be: “1. Are you for the joining of Crimea to the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation? 2. Are you for a return to force of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and for the status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?” The referendum is illegitimate and in contravention of both the Constitution of Ukraine and Ukrainian legislation. The Autonomous Republic has the right to call a referendum but it does not have the right under Ukrainian law to regulate this referendum. There is no law on local referenda currently in force. According to the Constitution and laws regulating Crimea, the republic has the right to hold a referendum only on questions within its jurisdiction. The Ukrainian Constitution states that Ukrainian sovereignty is exercised over the entirety of the territory of Ukraine and Ukraine’s borders can only be changed through a nationwide referendum. Furthermore, the idea of holding a referendum on joining a country when the armed forces of the occupying country are present would indicate that the vote was held under duress. If there is an attempt to hold the referendum, already high tensions will escalate.

2. Reactions to “decisions” by Crimean Parliament

Acting president Turchynov declared the decisions adopted by Crimean parliament illegitimate, vetoed the decisions, and stated that Ukraine’s parliament will dissolve the Crimean parliament. The Ministry of Justice has called the decisions illegal and has noted that they were passed in contravention of parliamentary procedure. The Security Service of Ukraine opened two criminal investigations –against the Crimean Parliament’s Speaker Konstantyov, and the “self-nominated” head of the Council of Ministers A. Aksyonov (who is not recognized by the Kyiv government) for “actions that have as the goal the overthrow of the constitutional order or seizure of power.” The second case was opened against the deputies of the Crimean parliament, for violation of the constitutional order and for threatening the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine.  R. Chubarov, head of the Majlis of the Crimean Tatar People, stated that the Majlis will not recognize the referendum and has called on all Crimeans to boycott the referendum.  The President of the European Council H. van Rompuy stated that the decision to hold the referendum is “contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and therefore illegal.”

3. US imposes targeted sanctions in response to Ukraine crisis

President Obama issued an executive order today that places travel bans and freezes the property in the United States of  any person deemed: “(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following: (A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; (B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or (C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine;(ii) to have asserted governmental authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine; (iii) to be a leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order…” The Executive Order also issues travel bans on those who are deemed to fall under the categories outlined above.

4. European Commission Meeting of Heads of State or Government

The European Commission held a meeting of Heads of State or Government on the situation in Ukraine, after which it stated that the EU will suspend talks with Russia on visa matters and the New Agreement. They also declared that should negotiations between Ukraine not be undertaken and “produce results within a limited timeframe,” the EU will “decide on additional measures” against Russia, including “travel bans, asset freezes, and the cancellation of the EU-Russia summit,” and that any steps to escalate the situation by Russia would have “severe and far-reaching consequences” for EU-Russia relations, including “a broad range of economic areas.”

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