Russia Recognizes Crimean Independence, Paving Way For Annexation

Crimea Russian Propaganda

Responding to a secession referendum that most of the world rejects, Vlaidimir Putin’s Russia has formally recognized Crimean independence, a move that sets in motion the regions eventual annexation into Russia:

MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia signed a decree on Monday formally recognizing Crimea as a “sovereign and independent state,” laying the groundwork for annexation and defying the United States and Europe just hours after they imposed their first financial sanctions against Moscow since the crisis in Ukraine began.

Mr. Putin issued his late-night decree after the region declared independence earlier in the day and asked Russia to annex it in keeping with the results of a referendum conducted Sunday under the watch of Russian troops. The Kremlin announced that Mr. Putin would address both houses of the Russian Parliament on Tuesday, when many expect him to endorse annexation.

The moves indicated that Moscow remained undaunted by Western pressure in a clash of wills that has created the most profound rift in East-West relations since the end of the Cold War, and that threatens the redrawn borders established by the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Every time the United States and Europe have tried to draw a line in recent weeks, Mr. Putin has vaulted past it. The White House indicated that it had held back going after some in Mr. Putin’s inner circle to have room for its next countermove.

The decree signed on Monday effectively raised the ante on President Obama after he froze assets and banned travel for 11 Russian and Ukrainian figures, including Vladislav Surkov, a longtime adviser to Mr. Putin; Dmitri O. Rogozin, a deputy prime minister of Russia; and Valentina I. Matviyenko, a Putin ally and the chairwoman of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s Parliament. The European Union followed with sanctions against 21 Russian and Ukrainian figures.

The sweep of the sanctions was viewed as relatively modest, but Mr. Obama signaled he may go further by signing an executive order authorizing future action against Russia’s arms industry and the wealthy business figures who support Mr. Putin’s governing clique.

“We’re making it clear that there are consequences for their actions,” Mr. Obama said as he announced the sanctions. “We’ll continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world.”

The question for Obama and the West, of course, comes if and when we reach the point where it’s clear that sanctions are not going to cause Putin to back down. Nobody seriously believes that the West is going to use military force, either directly or indirectly, to try to oust Russia from Crimea, so unless it turns out that Putin ends up biting off more than he can chew it seems hard to believe that the Russians are going to give up what they’ve won here. Like it or not, Crimea will soon once again be part of Russia. What happens next is, as I noted Sunday, up to the parties involved.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. stonetools says:

    I think most people accept that Crimea is lost to Russia. THe next issue is what should the West do if Putin next moves oneastern and southern Ukraine. Julia Joffe in the New Republic argues that Putinj must do this, since its the only way to provide Crimea with food, oil, etc. She seems to be arguing for a military respopnse, and I expect the Rpublicans will take this up too.
    I’ll be blunt. We can’t stop Putin from taking eastern Ukraine without a military response. It’s also clear to me that NATO is incapable of doing this at this time. We have to decide onwhere NATO will take its stand, and I hope we will do it where it is miltarily feasible to do this. War gamers, please weigh in.

  2. Scott says:

    From a pure cost benefit analysis, it seems as though Crimea is a loser. It will cost Russia cash to keep it. There are substantial minorities to deal with (Tatars, Ukrainians). It has been, basically, their Guantanamo Bay, a place for a naval base. The logic of empire means that it will be a net loss for Russia. We shouldn’t do much but make the losses bigger at little cost to the US. Let’s keep a little asymmetry here on our side.

  3. Dave D says:
  4. stonetools says:

    From a pure cost benefit analysis, it seems as though Crimea is a loser.

    This is a lot more about national pride than about logic and cost. The Russians can cite reasons going back to 1783 or earlier why Crimea must be Russian.In the same way there is no credible reason why the USA should still have a naval base on Guantanamo. The exact same facliities could be maintained much more cheaply in Florida with no loss of strategic advantage. But let Obama even whisper that in Congress, and the Republicans would come down on him like a ton of bricks with talk about cowardly retreat, projecting weakness, etc.

  5. dazedandconfused says:


    Gitmo isn’t anything comparable to a naval base. What losing Black Sea access would be like to the Russians is roughly comparable to what losing access to the Pacific would be to the US. Not a real great analogy, but it’s a huge deal. Their other ports are frozen up for a portion of the year.

    Our media is turning the US into an actual Idiocracy. Even the most obvious and basic factors miss these kids. Their ability keep babbling to avoid the horror of “dead air” is why they have those jobs, not because they are well educated.