Thursday, June 01, 2006

Russia, Crimea and NATO

The State Duma of the Russian Federation intends to ask the government about the possibility of Crimea being returned to Russia. Several days ago a majority of Duma’s members backed the corresponding protocol message to the Duma Committees on the International Affairs and CIS.

Even the Communist Party of Ukraine have condemned this move. Russia's periodic trouble-making over Crimea is counter-productive and mainly for domestic consumption. conducted [an admittedly non scientific] straw poll recently, asking readers: 'How should Ukraine react to the State Duma's wish to take back Crimea?' Out of 679 votes cast, only 2.8% said return Crimea; 35% said take back former Kievan Rus' lands, and 22% said apply all efforts, up to the use of military action; 17% said use diplomatic efforts to maintain Ukraine's integrity; and 12% said take no notice.

It's about time Putin made his position clear on this matter, preferably before the G8 summit.

Meanwhile Party of Regions have indicated that they are not anti-NATO, and want "to do the same as Russia, i.e. without direct entry into NATO, to seriously deepen Ukraine's co-operation [with the alliance]; but membership would have to be decided only after a referendum on the matter," according to PR press service, quoting Taras Chornovil, one of the party's 'leading lights'. The referendum could take place, "no sooner than in two or three year's time." These statements have maybe been timed to cover embarrassment over the demonstrations against the US vessel in Feodosiya recently, about which Scott has recently written. A majority of Ukrainians are against full NATO membership at the moment.

Update: Today the Russian State Duma has retracted questions about possible union between Crimea and Russia. It was all a mistake and a misunderstanding, according to Chairman of the interparliamentary Committee for co-operation between Federal assemblies and the Ukrainian VR Konstyantin Zatulin.

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