Putin pushes forward with Crimea annexation; Update: Agreement signed?

posted at 8:01 am on March 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Vladimir Putin made a triumphant appearance in the Russian Duma today, speaking to loud cheers and thunderous applause as he defended the Russian seizure of Crimea.  Calling the 96.7% result from the plebescite on Sunday “an extremely convincing figure,” Putin at once hailed Crimean independence, and almost in the same breath exhorted the parliament to begin the process of its annexation into Russia:

President Vladimir Putin put the annexation of Crimea on a fast track Tuesday morning, ordering the drafting of an accession agreement between Crimea and Russia. …

Members of the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, taunted the West over financial sanctions that the United States, the European Union and Canada have put in place against several dozen individuals. Some of those on the lists, which are intended to punish officials involved in the Ukrainian crisis, said they were proud to be included.

The Duma drew up a draft response denouncing the sanctions Tuesday morning. Olga Batalina, of the ruling United Russia party, said in presenting the statement, “The U.S. has gotten so absorbed with playing the policy of double standards that it has stopped distinguishing black from white and patriots from fascists. They are so convinced of their own impunity that they allow themselves to pursue any stance just for the sake of it.”

Later, Putin talked about the Russian nature of Crimea in his speech to the Duma:

Putin, speaking to a joint session of Parliament in Moscow, also stressed the historical and cultural ties between Russia and Crimea, and said Crimea is an inalienable part of Russia.

“In our hearts we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia,” he said.

Crimean independence may be more complicated than the Crimeans or the Russians realize. CNN reports on the amount of economic support the peninsula gets from the rest of Ukraine:

A secession would mean transferring banks, public utilities and public transport from Ukraine to Russia in what would undoubtedly be a costly operation.

Crimea is entirely integrated into Ukraine’s mainland economy and infrastructure: 90% of its water, 80% of its electricity and roughly 65% of its gas comes from the rest of country. It also depends heavily on the Ukrainian mainland to balance its books. About 70% of Crimea’s $1.2 billion budget comes directly from Kiev.

That may end up being a relief to the new government in Kyiv, if still a bitter humiliation. The new Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, continues to strike a hopeful note for relations with Moscow, hoping to keep the rest of Ukraine’s territorial integrity intact. Yatsenyuk offered a speech — in Russian rather than Ukrainian — pledging not to seek NATO membership and to protect the ethnic-Russian populations in the east:

Yatsenyuk took office after mass demonstrations ousted a pro-Russian government. His quickly developing ties with the U.S. and Europe upset Russian officials and helped prompt a Russian push into Crimea.

Now, with Crimea apparently on the verge of becoming part of Russia, Yatsenyuk said he knows there are limits.

“Association with NATO is not on the agenda,” he said, offering the possibility of reforms that would give the country’s regions more power, something Moscow has suggested.“Despite the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine, I will do everything possible not only to keep the peace but also to build a genuine partnership with Russia and good neighbor relations.”

Putin seemed to respond in kind, claiming that Russia wanted no further division of Ukraine:

President Vladimir Putin says that Crimea should be part of Russia.

At the same time, he said in a televised address to the nation Tuesday that Russia doesn’t want to move to other regions of Ukraine, saying that “we don’t want division of Ukraine.”

Putin said that Russia had to respond to what he described as a Western plot to take Ukraine into its sphere of influence. He said that protests that drove out Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych were encouraged by the West.

Once again, Putin used Kosovo as his precedent for recognizing Crimean independence:

In a televised address to the nation, he said Crimea’s vote Sunday to join Russia was in line with international law, reflecting its right for self-determination.

To back the claim, he pointed to Kosovo’s independence bid from Serbia – supported by the West and opposed by Russia – and said that Crimea’s secession from Ukraine repeats Ukraine’s own secession from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Ukraine may end up counting itself fortunate if it only loses Crimea in this exchange. On the other hand, the last country in Europe to demand pieces of other countries on the basis of ethnic self-determination didn’t stop at just one bite. We’ll see if Putin does, but if I were in other former Soviet republics, I wouldn’t bet on it.

Update: Well, that didn’t take long:

Did Putin even bother with a Duma vote?

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And an apology to all for my mistake laden typing in this thread. But David Blue has moved the target so many times in this thread, it’s hard to type fast enough and accurately enough to keep up with his multi-personality opinions.

My apology.

Walter L. Newton on March 18, 2014 at 9:32 AM

There are small neo-nazi nationalist parties in every European country, even in Germany where they are banned.

For that matter, they haunt our own political rallies, gatherings and public affairs.

You can’t get away from them, especially in Europe. You talk about democracy but you want any country to exclude the fringe groups that want to participate in their political process? We don’t even do that here.

So since Nuland and McCain were attending a political rally for freedom, and there was were nationalist in the group, that means they/we were supporting a neo-nazi government for the Ukraine?

Walter L. Newton on March 18, 2014 at 9:15 AM

Using David’s logic, lefties in Europe, like politicians in Norway, who attend rallies where ‘Death to Jews!’ is chanted, must support a new Holocaust.

Norway: A Tolerant, Inclusive, Diverse, Multicultural Society For Everyone…Except Jews

Resist We Much on March 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

Using David’s logic, lefties in Europe, like politicians in Norway, who attend rallies where ‘Death to Jews!’ is chanted, must support a new Holocaust.

Norway: A Tolerant, Inclusive, Diverse, Multicultural Society For Everyone…Except Jews

Resist We Much on March 18, 2014 at 9:36 AM

David Blue is not using logic in any sense of the word. It is knight-jump politics where he thinks he can maneuver out of his stupid comments by going a bit in one way and then a lot in another way, confusing the issue and the results is he never has to answer for his original comments.

I’m sorry to be so harsh, but David Blue is one stupid, uninformed, unintelligent person in regards to world politics.

Walter L. Newton on March 18, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Russia tried to talk China into waging financial war on the US in 2008, as the country was mired in a mortgage crisis. According to former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Russian leaders wanted the Chinese government to dump billions of dollars worth of bonds tied to ailing mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The Russians made a “top-level approach” to the Chinese:

“that together they might sell big chunks of their GSE holdings to force the U.S. to use its emergency authorities to prop up these companies,”

Paulson said the Chinese declined. He also confirmed this yesterday while in Europe.

Talking about the 2008 financial crisis, particularly the issues with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson explained that the Chinese were the “biggest external investor holding Fannie and Freddie Securities.” Because of this, China was “very, very concerned” when Fannie and Freddie began to melt down.

That’s when the Russians allegedly tried to iron out a pact with the Chinese.

“Here I’m not going to name the senior person, but I was meeting with someone… This person told me that the Chinese had received a message from the Russians which was, ‘Hey let’s join together and sell Fannie and Freddie securities on the market.’ The Chinese weren’t going to do that
but again, it just, it just drove home to me how vulnerable I felt until we had put Fannie and Freddie into conservatorship [the rescue plan for them, that was eventually put in place],” Paulson said.

Resist We Much on March 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

So what. It was a test of who was loyal and who wasn’t.

The Poles were loyal. They deserve extra protection and consideration. (And they are not getting it.) The Turks weren’t, and don’t.

This isn’t about laws or the bogus sacredness of treaties.

David Blue on March 18, 2014 at 9:15 AM

It isn’t about who did what, who is loyal and who isn’t, or whether or not the Turks deserve protection under Article 5 of the NATO treaty. Telling the Turks to go it alone because of what they did in 2003 is a violation of the treaty. There are plenty of NATO member countries we have disagreements with. That doesn’t mean we don’t honor the alliance. What Turkey did in regards to Iraq was invoke Article 4, which they had every right to do. The fact they did not allow our troops to stage in Turkey and cross into Iraq is a separate issue and had nothing to do with NATO.

RandallinHerndon on March 18, 2014 at 9:44 AM

You could make a lot of money by putting toll gates on our red lines that no one should cross.

KW64 on March 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

I looked up the history of the Ukraine. They have been an independent country for hundreds of years. That said they have been run over a lot. What a place to live. Yes, we should help.

CW20 on March 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

“The United States is planning to give up its last remaining authority over the technical management of the Internet.

The Commerce Department announced Friday that it will give the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), an international nonprofit group, control over the database of names and addresses that allows computers around the world to connect to each other.

Administration officials say U.S. authority over the Internet address system was always intended to be temporary and that ultimate power should rest with the “global Internet community.”

But some fear that the Obama administration is opening the door to an Internet takeover by Russia, China, or other countries that are eager to censor speech and limit the flow of ideas.

“If the Obama Administration gives away its oversight of the Internet, it will be gone forever,” wrote Daniel Castro, a senior analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

Castro argued that the world “could be faced with a splintered Internet that would stifle innovation, commerce, and the free flow and diversity of ideas that are bedrock tenets of world’s biggest economic engine.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, called the announcement a “hostile step” against free speech.

“Giving up control of ICANN will allow countries like China and Russia that don’t place the same value in freedom of speech to better define how the internet looks and operates,” she said in a statement.

Critics warn that U.S. control of the domain system has been a check against the influence of authoritarian regimes over ICANN, and in turn the Internet.

But other advocacy groups, businesses, and lawmakers have praised the administration’s announcement—while also saying they plan to watch the transition closely.

The Internet was invented in the United States, and the country has always had a central role in its management. But as the Internet has grown, other countries have demanded a greater voice. Edward Snowden’s leaks about U.S. surveillance have only exacerbated that tension.

China, Russia, Iran, and dozens of other countries are already pushing for more control over the Internet through the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency.

The transition to full ICANN control of the Internet’s address system won’t happen until October 2015, and even then, there likely won’t be any sudden changes. ICANN was already managing the system under a contract from the Commerce Department.

But having the ultimate authority over the domain name system was the most important leverage the United States had in debates over the operation of the Internet. It was a trump card the U.S. could play if it wanted to veto an ICANN decision or fend off an international attack on Internet freedom.

The Obama administration is keenly aware of the potential for an authoritarian regime to seize power over the Internet. ICANN will have to submit a proposal for the new management system to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency within the Commerce Department.

“I want to make clear that we will not accept a proposal that replaces the NTIA role with a government-led or an intergovernmental solution,” Larry Strickling, the head of NTIA, said Friday.

Fadi Chehadé, the president and CEO of ICANN, said he will work with governments, businesses, and nonprofits to craft a new oversight system.

“All stakeholders deserve a voice in the management and governance of this global resource as equal partners,” he said.

Verizon, AT&T, Cisco, and other business groups all issued statements applauding the administration’s move. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller argued that the transition will help ensure the Internet remains free and open.

Sen. John Thune, the top Republican on the Commerce Committee, said he will watch the process carefully, but that he trusts “the innovators and entrepreneurs more than the bureaucrats—whether they’re in D.C. or Brussels.”

The transition will reassure the global community that the U.S. is not trying to manipulate the Internet for its own economic or strategic advantage, according to Cameron Kerry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former acting Commerce secretary.

Steve DelBianco, the executive director of NetChoice, a pro-business tech group, said the U.S. was bound to eventually give up its role overseeing Internet addresses. But he said lawmakers and the Obama administration will have to ensure that ICANN will still be held accountable before handing the group the keys to the address system in 2015.

DelBianco warned that without proper safeguards, Russian President Vladimir Putin or another authoritarian leader could pressure ICANN to shut down domains that host critical content.

“That kind of freedom of expression is something that the U.S. has carefully protected,” DelBianco said in an interview. “Whatever replaces the leverage, let’s design it carefully.”


workingclass artist on March 18, 2014 at 9:56 AM


How soon is oversight of ICANN going to change? The IANA contract between the Commerce Department and ICANN is set to expire in September 2015. The hope is to have a new governance plan in place by then, so the contract can expire without needing to renew it.

What happens after that? ICANN will be subject to some new form of multistakeholder oversight, possibly a new organization assembled from the various international bodies that have an interest in how the Internet is managed.

Make no mistake, this is a concession by the U.S. While the Commerce Department rarely intervened publicly in ICANN’s affairs, the implicit threat of its ability to do so will be gone. That could have an unforeseen impact in the future, particularly if cyberweapons continue to play a larger role in military and counter-intelligence activities.

kcewa on March 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

I looked up the history of the Ukraine. They have been an independent country for hundreds of years. That said they have been run over a lot. What a place to live. Yes, we should help.

CW20 on March 18, 2014 at 9:54 AM

I don’t think anybody is interested in a do-over of the Crimean War.

workingclass artist on March 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

kcewa on March 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM

It’s a problem…and yet another signal to our enemies of our voluntary decline.

workingclass artist on March 18, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Obama’s Reset Button: That was Easy.
Enter Joe Biden.

Krupnikas on March 18, 2014 at 10:09 AM

BREAKING NEWS US President Barack Obama invites the G7 leaders to a meeting next week to discuss further action on Ukraine.

Springing into action.

kcewa on March 18, 2014 at 10:13 AM

Does Vladimir have the balls to target George Soros for economic sanctions? If so then Obama is toast.

meci on March 18, 2014 at 10:23 AM

You could make a lot of money by putting toll gates on our red lines that no one should cross.

KW64 on March 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

The Axe Consortium opposes both toll roads and usage taxation. The infrastructure is common; all people should be able to access all of the infrastructure, regardless of personal means. To privatize the infrastructure is to segment the physical ground such that multiple practical nations are created within the one nation, literally establishing multiple classes that are physically cordoned off from others — such as a Pariah class — within the United States.

Therefore — the Axe Consortium supports and applauds the Obama Administration’s efforts in making all red lines freely passable to everyone.

Axe on March 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

Resist We Much on March 18, 2014 at 9:43 AM

Grab Joe Biden and explain to him that this is what a big ****ing deal looks like.

Axe on March 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Therefore — the Axe Consortium supports and applauds the Obama Administration’s efforts in making all red lines freely passable to everyone.

Axe on March 18, 2014 at 10:51 AM

AH! So that explains our immigration enforcement policy. The border is a red line! Got it.

KW64 on March 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM

AH! So that explains our immigration enforcement policy. The border is a red line! Got it.

KW64 on March 18, 2014 at 11:01 AM

lol — The Axe Consortium isn’t Communist. :)

. . . but you can go frown at some of that crap over on this thread if you have a mind. Masquerading as free trade.

Axe on March 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM

You could make a lot of money by putting toll gates on our red lines that no one should cross.

KW64 on March 18, 2014 at 9:50 AM

That’s how George Soros invests: in the American Failure his minion, the Petulantly Impotent Magnificent Barack is creating.

ConstantineXI on March 18, 2014 at 11:14 AM

Hey David Blue (and anyone else that is so misinformed on this issue). Anyone think that Putin is happy now?

Putin’s 50-minute speech was a catalog of 20 years of Russian complaints about the West. He touched on the downfall of the Soviet Union, Kosovo, NATO expansion, missile defense, Libya, Iraq and Syria. He mentioned Soviet support for the reunification of Germany in 1990. “I hope Germans will support the aspirations of Russians to restore Russia,” he said.

“Our Western partners have crossed a line,” he said. “They’ve been unprofessional…”

“All these places are sacred to us,” he said. After noting that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev assigned Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, he argued that Russia by rights should have gotten it back in 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved.

“Russia was not just robbed — it was robbed in broad daylight,” he said.

“We sympathize with the people of Ukraine,” he said. “We’re one nation. Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities.”


He’s not going to stop with Crimea. Easy money bet.

Walter L. Newton on March 18, 2014 at 11:20 AM


‘Breaking point’…
Biden in Poland to ‘reassure’ allies

LilliPutin shakes in his boots, and…world assured by Biden :)

Schadenfreude on March 18, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Halp us John Karry, we’re stuk in Ukrane…..

Will there be peace in our time? That’s the big question.

Oldnuke on March 18, 2014 at 11:40 AM

I am so happy that we have leaders like Barrack the light bringer, Joe “Plugs” Biden and John “I served in Vietnam” Kerry to lead us in this time of crisis.

Oldnuke on March 18, 2014 at 11:44 AM

It appears there are others who wish to be part of Russia now as well:


KickandSwimMom on March 18, 2014 at 11:46 AM

I can’t help but picture King Putt in the role of Lord Beckett at the end of Pirates..3 – when his ship is being blasted from both sides and he’s walking down the middle muttering “but it was just good business” as the whole ship explodes.

dentarthurdent on March 18, 2014 at 11:55 AM

I would ask at what point will Americans say they’ve had enough of our President being called weak and ineffective and indecisive and lazy and incompetent and DO SOMETHING about it, but if we somehow managed to get the bum thrown out of the White House, that would leave us with Biden. Sigh. I really am tired of reading story after story after story laying out all the ways this feckless rump has messed things up. There are far too many of them. How could they have elected someone so bad? Who is ever going to be able to repair the damages he’s done? It’s not like we can elect God next time around, but that’s who we’ll need by the time he’s done screwing things up.

scalleywag on March 18, 2014 at 12:10 PM

That last country was America NATO, and the case of ethnic self-determination unarmed civilians to being mowed down by heavy weapons was Kosovo.

David Blue on March 18, 2014 at 8:16 AM

Fixed it for you.

V7_Sport on March 18, 2014 at 4:38 PM

The constant comparisons between Putin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany fail. It’s America, not Russia, that just backed a neo-nazi coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected government.

David Blue on March 18, 2014 at 8:13 AM

Who feeds you? Someone this gullible can’t be earning a living.

This isn’t about laws or the bogus sacredness of treaties.

David Blue on March 18, 2014 at 9:15 AM

So your word means nothing.

V7_Sport on March 18, 2014 at 4:42 PM

…I see that RWM is healing…nicely!

KOOLAID2 on March 18, 2014 at 10:05 PM

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