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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/21/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ukraine signs trade pact with Europe

Crimea, the former semi-autonomous southeastern region of Ukraine, has formerly become a part of the Russian Federation, following Russian President Vladimir Putin's official annexation of the region on March 21.

Russian forces as well as pro-Russian nationalists have occupied Crimea since early March.

Russian forces as well as pro-Russian nationalists have occupied Crimea since early March.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/21/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Ukraine, Crimea, Russia


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The annexation followed a referendum earlier last week, held by Crimea on whether or not to secede from Ukraine, and whether to become part of Russia. The vote, which has fallen under scrutiny for numerous fraud allegations, and decried as illegal by the West, passed by 97% according to Russian news agencies.

Following the vote, Ukraine's interim president Oleksandr Turchynov decided to withdraw all Ukrainian military personnel and their families from the region, and requested that the United Nations make the region a demilitarized zone.

Opinions in Crimea are divided, though they do lean heavily towards Moscow. Amongst Tartars, a Turkic ethnic group that's primarily Muslim, worries are growing amongst the older generation who remember the purges brought on under the Soviet Union in 1944, where the group faced exile and extermination.

The United States and various European Union countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russia and some Ukrainians who are deemed to have encouraged the actions in Crimea. This list includes former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych who was ousted in February after backing out on an economic deal with the E.U. in favor closer ties with Russia.

On March 21, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatensyuk signed portions of a trade pact with the E.U. while in Russia lawmakers were finalizing the annexation of Crimea. The signing shows that Europe wishes to stand firm with Ukraine, and is symbolic of an official turn away from Russia towards the rest of Europe.

Yatensyuk said that the signing of the trade pact is more important than the annexation of Crimea. "I don't care about Russia signing this deal; I care about Ukraine, Ukrainians, and our European future." According to Yatensyuk, signing this pact allows the Ukraine and Europe to speak with one voice.

In another blow against Moscow, on March 21 Humans Rights Watch said that it has concluded that Russia is occupying Crimea under international law, and will be responsible for all actions of authorities or proxy forces therein.

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