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Biden calls annexation of Crimea an ‘almost unbelievable set of events’
Question of the Day
Brushing aside President Obama’s threat of more sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean region of Ukraine on Tuesday with the stroke of a pen, while NATO members criticized Washington for getting caught off guard by Russia’s military buildup.
As the Russian national anthem played and cheering lawmakers wept, Mr. Putin and Crimean leaders signed a treaty in Moscow to make Crimea part of the Russian Federation, only two days after the region held a disputed referendum enforced by Russian troops.
“In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia,” Mr. Putin said in a passionate speech, adding that he had no further ambitions for Ukrainian territory.
The annexation prompted a howl of protest in Kiev, where Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called it “a robbery on an international scale” and warned that the crisis was careening toward war.
Mr. Obama kept a low profile a day after he imposed sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials. Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in Poland on a mission to calm anxious European leaders, denounced Russia’s “land grab” and warned Mr. Putin that the U.S. would issue more sanctions and defend its NATO allies.
“We join Poland and the international community condemning the continuing assault on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the blatant violation of international law by Mr. Putin and Russia,” the vice president said in Warsaw.
“We have to take these simple data about the gigantic increase of the level of funding of the Russian armed forces as a challenge as well as a lesson to be learned for the future of the whole NATO,” Mr. Komorowski said.
“We and NATO must draw our conclusions from Russia’s behavior in the current crisis; we need and must conduct a review of the entire range of NATO-Russia relations,” Mr. Ilves said, adding that the defense alliance’s principles toward Russia “don’t apply anymore.”
“There is no more respect for territorial integrity, for transparency,” said Mr. Ilves, whose country, like Ukraine, is a former Soviet republic and has a higher percentage of ethnic Russians — 25 percent of the population to Ukraine’s 17 percent. The protection of ethnic Russians was one of Mr. Putin’s principal justifications for invading Crimea.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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