After Taking Crimea, Putin Has Set His Sights on Southern Ukraine

Following the referendum in Crimea this past Sunday, which allegedly resulted in 95% of the voters choosing to be annexed by Russia, President Putin announced that he had submitted legislation to absorb the former Ukrainian Peninsula.

The reactions of the Crimean people were decidedly mixed. Much of the ethnic Russian population celebrated their land returning to the Russian Federation while others lambasted the act.

One of the most notable opposition groups to Russia has been the Tartars, the Muslims residing on the peninsula. This is largely due to the fact that Russia has a long and storied history of harshly discriminating against them.

As a result, many Tartars boycotted the referendum and chose not to vote. Other Tartars have said that they planned on voting, though they never received voting cards in the mail, as all citizens have in the past for presidential elections, and were therefore ineligible to vote.

This issue has appeared to be rather widespread, as many pro-Ukrainian citizens did not receive a voter card in the mail.

Also, reports have indicated that 123% of the population in Sevastopol voted in favor of joining Russia.

These well documented violations of voters’ rights and basic mathematical principles have lead to much of the world questioning the legitimacy of the referendum.

Considering that virtually every nation except for Russia and Crimea denounced the vote before it even happened, these clear cut acts of corruption have done little to aid in Russia’s international credibility.

However, while American leaders have gone as far as to wage war in the prospect of maintaining their credibility, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin seems entirely nonplussed with the opinions of the global community.

He ordered the invasion of a sovereign nation with tens of thousands of soldiers and then insisted that those men in Russian uniforms, with Russian weapons, driving Russian vehicles around Crimea were most certainly not Russian soldiers.

After the entire world refused to accept the results of the referendum that somehow had over 100% of the population vote for it, he accepted the results and referred to the process as “legal” and “in full compliance with international law”, according to a report in the International Business Times.

What’s more concerning than his apathy for any sort of legitimate international political process, is his increasing fervor in referencing the perceived tragedy of the fall of the Soviet Union.

In a recent speech championing the annexation of Crimea, Putin referenced the collapse of the Soviet Union as “unfortunate” and described its demise as an event that was inconceivable at the time.

He also explained how the Bolsheviks creation of Ukrainian borders was a grave mistake that “was done with no consideration for the ethnic makeup of the population, and today these areas form the south-east Ukraine.”

His comments bolster the legitimacy of the speculation that Russia may very well try to expand past Crimea and absorb parts of Southern Ukraine under the guise that the population of the region there is primarily Russian.

Putin’s increase in outspoken nostalgia for the glory of a past regime, combined with his aggressive use of military force for the sole purpose of expanding his nation’s borders are disturbingly reminiscent of a 1930’s Germany lead by Adolf Hitler.

Hitler’s military expansion began with the forcible annexation of the Sudetenland, a region of neighboring Czechoslovakia that was home to many ethnic Germans. His rhetoric for doing so was for the protection of these Germans and to return land to Germany that they were unfairly stripped of.

Other western nations allowed for Hitler to do so under the failed foreign policy of appeasement. In allowing Hitler to take anything he wanted, other global leaders only served to empowered him to then seek to expand farther; resulting in something of a skirmish.

After Putin has completed virtually the same campaign in Crimea, his describing of south-east Ukraine as being primarily Russian, just as he did in his comments on Crimea, are unsettling at best.

Putin’s apparent desire to restore the power and borders of the Soviet Union could very well lead him to expand even farther, from Crimea to southern Ukraine. In the event of such an advance, its is very likely that Ukraine will respond with force, especially considering that they have worked dutifully to greatly expand their national guard since the inception of this crisis.

Ultimately, the world is merely waiting on Putin to make another move. The West has long since made it clear that they will not respond with military force and Ukraine is unlikely to be able to repel the Russian military if Putin does opt for further aggression. Seemingly, if Putin wants more, there will be little to stop him from taking it.

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