Mood tense in Kiev after vote
KIEV, Ukraine People here were somewhat relieved Monday that the war that had been anticipated to blow up immediately following the referendum had not come.
But a f Swarovski eeling of uncertainty and dread remained.
It was just a few weeks ago that Ukrainians in the Maidan square were jubilant at the ouster of the hated president Viktor Yanukovych. But on Monday they could be seen preparing for a coming conflict, standing at the barricades of rubble that shielded protesters from bullets during protests last month.
Nikolei Korbelnikov, commander of the Crimean brigade based in Kiev’s Independence Square since December, said he was worried that he could no longer return to his mother and friends left at home on the peninsula.
He said his fame as commander of a brigade during the protests mean that he is too well known.
“This victory in the referendum is just another stage in the propaganda war,” Korbelnikov said. “I know what the levels of support (to join Russia) were before I left Crimea and they were about 15% for Russia, 25% for Europe and the rest could live without either.”
He added that he did not think that had changed, despite the results of the vote.
Korbelnikov is now working with the Red Cross as a volunteer to send slee Swarovski ping mats, sleeping bags and medical supplies to the regions in U Swarovski kraine where they could be needed if there’s violence and people flee their homes.
Crimea’s regional assembly Monday unanimously voted to declare the peninsula independent from Ukraine and petition Russia to admit it to the federation after a huge majority of Crimeans voted to join with Russia.
Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov welcomed the outcome of the referendum, which saw 96% of voters cast their ballots in favor of union with Moscow, according to Russian news media. He declared via Twitter the region would move to Russian time starting March 30.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchinov vowed that Ukraine will not give up Crimea but that he would “be doing everything to solve the conflict through diplomatic means.”
But in the Ukrainian capital, anti government protesters are warning that the ballot may trigger chaos on the southern peninsula.
“There will be conflict for hundreds of years there,” said Igor Gowashenko, a member of a civil defense group, talking about Crimea. “I’m sure the Russian army will destroy stability by taking people’s private property.”
The referendum was held during an occupation of the peninsula by pro Russian forces. The leadership of the Crimean regional assembly was appointed while pro Russian armed men were holding the parliament.
Ukraine’s defense minister announced he had agreed to a “truce” with Russia on the disputed peninsula, one that would put on hold a military standoff that has seen Russian soldiers surround Ukraine bases there. The truce is due to expire Friday, the day when the Moscow Duma is slated to consider annexation of the region.
Ukraine is not the only country worried about Russia and war.
Romania’s president said Russia has created a chain of conflicts around the Black Sea to further President Vladimir Putin’s goal of rebuilding the former Soviet Union along its former border with the West.
“If you look at the map, you will see this chain of frozen conflicts” around the Black Sea “that can be set off at any time,” President Traian Basescu said, referring to conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.