Russia Seizes Its Eleventh Border Post in Crimea
by Mary Chastain 9 Mar 2014, 2:17 PM PDT
Russia captured its 11th border post in Crimea since the peninsula declared allegiance to Russia on February 22. Thirty Ukrainians are trapped inside the post in Chernomorskoye.
On Saturday, a Ukraining border patrol plane was fired at, and two warning shots were fired at members of the OSCE who were trying to enter the republic to monitor the situation. However, overall the Russian takeover has gone on without gunfire and with little resistance from the Ukrainian soldiers.
Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine, but ever since the Ukrainian parliament ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych, the peninsula made it known it wanted to be part of Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin quickly swept in to protect the ethnic Russians and Russian interests. Over 58% of the population are ethnic Russians, and Crimea is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet.
The West is constantly urging Russia to hold diplomatic talks with the new Ukrainian government, but it refuses to acknowledge the new leaders. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said twice his country views the new government as illegitimate and will not talk to anyone until a real leader is put in place. President Obama and others worldwide have also repeatedly told Putin to pull back forces and leave Crimea.
The new Crimean parliament asked to join the Russian Federation, and Russia’s parliament pushed through legislation to make it easier to annex any country that wants to join. Crimeans will vote in a referendum on March 16. Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said the referendum is illegal and Ukraine will not give up an inch of land to Russia. Western leaders came out in defense of Yatseniuk.