The Crimean parliament voted on Tuesday that the Black Sea peninsula will declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum. Crimea’s regional legislature today adopted a “declaration of independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.” The document specified that Crimea will become an independent state if its residents vote on Sunday in favour of joining Russia in the referendum.
Western nations have said they will not recognise the vote as legitimate. But the move might be used as an attempt to ease tensions with Crimea existing as a self-proclaimed state without Russia moving quickly to incorporate it into its territory.
After a brief war between Russia and Georgia in 2008, some leaders sin Georgia’s breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia also asked to join Russia, but their request was never granted. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s acting president today called for the formation of a national guard and for the mobilisation of reserves and volunteers into the country’s armed forces.
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Oleksandr Turchynov asked the national parliament to approve turning the country’s Interior Ministry troops into a National Guard “to defend the country and citizens against any criminals, against external and internal aggression.” Turchynov said that the mobilisation will include those who have previously served in the army and volunteers. Russian forces have strengthened their control over Ukraine’s Crimea region in the run-up to a referendum set for Sunday on whether to split off and become part of Russia.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who will fly to Washington to meet with Barack Obama tomorrow, called on Western nations to defend Ukraine against a nation “that is armed to the teeth and that has nuclear weapons.”