Crimea to Join Russia?

Via the BBC:  Ukraine crisis: Crimea parliament asks to join Russia

MPs in Crimea have asked Moscow to allow the southern Ukrainian region to become part of the Russian Federation.

Parliament said if its request was granted, Crimean citizens could give their view in a referendum on 16 March.

Because, of course, nothing screams legitimate like a referendum of this nature when the country that would be joined has troops on the ground.

The basics:

If Russia agrees to Crimea’s request, the Crimean people will be asked two questions in the 16 March referendum, the statement says

  • Are you in favour of reuniting Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation?
  • Are you in favour of retaining the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine?

Ukraine’s interim Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta, speaking in Kiev soon after the announcement, said: “We’re not working out what to do if Crimea joins the Russian Federation because we believe it’s unconstitutional.”

According to Article 73 of the Ukraine constitution, “alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by an all-Ukrainian referendum”.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Quick Takes, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. If this is exclusively a referendum in Crimea, wouldn’t that violate the provision of the Ukrainian Constitution quoted in the article?

    Seems so to me.

  2. KM says:

    And if the “vote” doesn’t go Russia’s way like they think it will? Interviews with citizens lately have indicated they are pro-Russia but don’t want to BE Russia. They think the troops are there to “protect” them – what happens when the “protectors” get told they have an expiration date on that welcome?

  3. @Doug Mataconis: That would be my interpretation. It would be an unconstitutional referendum.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    I believe that’s called Anschluss in the original language.

  5. Neil Hudelson says:

    This seems legit. They have a whole 10 days to weigh all options of their country’s existence, and decide on a new course.

  6. @Neil Hudelson: Indeed.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    This, to me, seems like a decent, and critically needed, off ramp for this crisis.
    My concern…and apparently Germany’s…is the possibility of escalation here. The hyperventilation from the our Beltway is all about Hitler. In Germany the focus is on 1914…a much more apt analogy.

  8. KM says:

    @C. Clavin:

    So if Mexican troops took over appeared happened to be in the area of several vital areas of Texas and then several pro-Mexican officials wanted a referendum to join Mexico in what was an apparently illegal move, you’d be cool with it as an off-ramp to a tense situtation? Even if the average citizenry (in Texas, let alone the US) wasn’t down with the idea even though there’s a “large ethnic population that associates with the mother country” in that particular region making noise? Yea, those troops strange men with guns don’t have any bearing on this at all – it’s totally legit that they suddenly want to join. Nothing to see here.

  9. john personna says:


    It’s funny that you choose Texas, because that’s more or less the way that Texas was split off Mexico, to join the United States.

    Now the interesting thing to me about Crimea is that at least on the radio, talking to protesters, there are ethnic Russians in Crimea who don’t want to be Russian now. They want to be Ukrainian.

    Given the tortured history of Crimea (with populations shipped in and out), an honest vote now on the archipelago would probably be the fairest thing.

  10. KM says:

    @john personna:
    Actually, I chose Texas specifically for that reason. Its history and relationship with Mexico mirror the complicated mess that is Crimea right now. It’s the closest example most Americans can relate to, even if it’s not ideal.

    an honest vote now on the archipelago would probably be the fairest thing.

    A huge concern is that even if there managed to be a completely above-board vote, Russia will not honor it. AP is reporting that a UN envoy was just forced to leave Crimea by armed men. Putin’s not playing anymore – it’s his way or the highway.

    A crew from Britain’s ITV news was with Serry as he sheltered in the cafe.

    “My car was blocked and somebody who did not identify himself was telling me that he had orders to bring me immediately to the airport,” Serry told the broadcaster. “I refused.” He left the car and walked to the cafe, where the armed men outside prevented him from leaving. He eventually left the cafe through a crowd chanting pro-Russia slogans and was driven to the airport.

    You can’t expect to have an honest vote when the deadline got moved up by two weeks and they are apparently expelling foreign dignitaries trying to determine what the hell is going on. I agree that a true vote is a good idea as the theoretical best path. But it’s not going to happen as Putin’s pushing this on his terms and timetable.

  11. C. Clavin says:

    If folks like Rick Perry and Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and George Bush all voted to secede and join Mexico…yeah, baby…I’m all for it.
    If you go back and read history….it’s pretty much how we ended up with those nut-jobs to begin with.

  12. gVOR08 says:

    I lived in TX for two years in the early 70s. I decided then that if MX wanted it back, as far as I was concerned, they could have it. However, we did once fight a pretty serious war to establish the precedent that no, we’re keeping it.

    Looks like this will turn on:
    – whether Putin has ambitions beyond Crimea
    – how bad the west wants to fight back against de jure Russian possession of Crimea, of which they already had significant de facto possession
    – what the Crimeans want
    – what kind of deal the rest of Ukraine feel they can live with

    I have been surprised that I haven’t seen news of Putins’s “not Russian’ troops in eastern Ukraine and Odessa. Pro Russian demonstrators, but not “not Russian” troops with Russian equipment, uniforms, no insignia, and face masks. If that stays the case, maybe everybody can talk each other off the ledge.

  13. Dave D says:

    Russia can’t afford it if the West decides to actually impose sanctions. Not only does Ukraine supply Crimea with all of its water and most of it’s electricity, something Russia would have to build across the sea to establish, just bailing out the Crimea is estimated to cost 500 billion euros with an additional 100 billion in public pensions and funded liabilities. As it is this move is sinking the Russian markets and there is talk about lifting Iranian oil sanctions which would crush their already stagnant economy. Apparently if the US and Iran can come to terms about the Iranian nuclear program Russia may be the biggest loser. Ironic they have helped broker the terms. The economic impact to Russia will likely cause the deal to end up hurting Russia far more than any gains. That said the EU and America both cleared loan guarantees to Ukraine today to make up for undelivered Russian funds.