Crimea has just announced the preliminary result of its forced referendum. Unsurprisingly, 95 percent of those taking part in the poll voted in favor of Crimea seceding from Ukraine and joining the Russian Federation. But the Crimea referendum was a farce, and the free world must unite in rejecting it and calling on Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
This was an illegal vote engineered by Moscow and enforced at the barrel of a gun, in complete violation of the Ukrainian Constitution. Crimeans went to the polls under conditions of occupation and massive intimidation, with dissenting voices ruthlessly suppressed, Ukrainian media shut down, foreign journalists beaten on the streets, and international observers barred from the region.
The rule of law was replaced by the boots of Russian troops masquerading as “self-defense” forces. The bogus referendum result will be used by Russian President Vladimir Putin as justification for the annexation of Crimea and as a possible precursor to a larger invasion of eastern Ukraine.