Have a new piece up at Lobe Log, with the latest (as of this morning) developments in Ukraine. Surprising nobody, Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine in a referendum that almost everyone outside of Crimea and Russia says is illegal, and that was compromised at any rate by the armed, um, “self-defense forces” roaming around all over the place and also by the fact that the ballot’s two choices were “secession” or “secession.” Here’s a bit (please go read the whole thing):
Russia has yet to formally agree to annex Crimea, and leading Russian politicians have given verbal support to Crimean independence, but Putin has previously said that Russia has “no plans” to annex the peninsula. A decision to annex Crimea would bring with it an immediate crisis, given that the peninsula is almost entirely dependent upon the Ukrainian mainland for its electricity, fuel, and fresh water. If Russia does elect to annex the region, it may have no choice but to engage in negotiations with the new Ukrainian government, whose legitimacy it has thus far refused to recognize, over maintaining those services in Crimea until Russia can build the infrastructure to provide them instead.
Russia may also attempt to seize other parts of Ukraine outside of Crimea, which could render Crimea’s utility vulnerabilities moot. On Saturday, for example, Russian forces seized a Ukrainian natural gas terminal just north of Crimea, and Ukrainian forces reportedly surrounded the terminal in response. Russian media declared that Crimean “self-defense forces” had seized the terminal in response to the Ukrainian government cutting off the supply of gas to parts of Crimea.
I’m trying to stick to the facts but recognize that my dislike for Putin probably bleeds through somewhat. Later this week, maybe even tomorrow if my brain stops feeling like mud, I hope to have a piece up here that gives Vlad’s case a fair consideration.