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The new Ukrainian government on Tuesday called for Western help to stop the annex of Crimea, which votes Sunday on whether to become a part of the Russian Federation. Russian forces entered the Crimea region late February, and officials from Ukraine, the European Union and the U.S. have said the upcoming vote is illegal.

Ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea regarding its future as part of Ukraine, the current borders of Europe must remain unaltered; Sweden’s foreign minister told CNBC on Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014

Working together for peace and security to help create a peaceful environment Kerry Warns Russia Against Annexation of Crimea. The secretary of state said that any steps by Russia to annex Crimea would bring diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine to a halt.

The secretary underscored U.S. readiness to work with partners and allies to facilitate direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.

“One of the very fundamental principles that everyone decided upon at the end of the Cold War, at the end of the Soviet Union, at the end of Yugoslavia, was: don’t change the borders,”Swedish Foreign minister Carl Bildt told CNBC. Mr Bildt was a mediator during the Balkans conflict.

Bildt said that people had to live within the existing borders of Europe and that allowing Crimea to become a part of Russia would send a dangerous precedent. 

His words came as the leaders of G-7 group, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, said Russia’s efforts to change the status of Crimea were “contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law.”

G-7 group call on the Russian Federation to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law. they said “We call on the Russian Federation to immediately halt actions supporting a referendum on the territory of Crimea regarding its status, in direct violation of the Constitution of Ukraine”.

The leaders of the G-7 nations said they will not recognize the results of a coming referendum on Crimea’s status.

In addition to its impact on the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states. Should the Russian Federation take such a step, we will take further action, individually and collectively,” the G-7 leaders said in a statement Wednesday.

The real tension now lies with whether Russia decides to enforce the referendum results with military action or an immediate annexation of Crimea.

Problems in the region emerged from a common history, as all of the Western Balkans countries were member states of one country. The shared transition from Communism and the process of overcoming the conflicts of the 1990s are often considered in conjunction with external difficulties.

The main issues remain border disputes, refugees and displaced persons as well as the war crimes. All these issues are a part of the broader concept of maintaining good neighbourly relations and ensuring the stability.

Many different sorts of violent events may be referred to as “ethnic”, from bar fights to hate crimes to riots to civil wars. Generally speaking, a violent attack might be described as ethnic if either
(a) it is motivated by animosity towards ethnic others;
(b) the victims are chosen by ethnic criteria; or
(c) the attack is made in the name of an ethnic group.
At least since the Second World War, the vast majority of ethnic killing has come from ethnic state oppression or fighting between a state and an armed group intending to represent an ethnic group (typically a minority).

To put this very simply, thanks to a complicated history, Ukraine can broadly be split between a Ukrainian-speaking West that opposed Viktor Yanukovych, and a Russian-speaking East that supported him. Some have argued that this is an oversimplification (most things are), but it does still seem to hold weight.

Swedish foreign minister — and former prime minister — Carl Bildt has been a vocal critic of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and Russia’s actions in the Crimea, describing the Kremlin’s occupation of the peninsula as a clear breach of international law.

In the case at hand, we have a situations which is highly in position, as noted Bildt was a mediator during the Balkans conflict of the mid-1990s. It is often said that the last several years have signalled a transition to a new stage in the development of Western Balkans that will lead the region into the European Union. Some countries are closer to that goal, others are further away, but ultimately they are all on the same road.

The implementation of the new rules will require sometimes difficult and painful reforms nationally. Structural reforms will not bear fruit overnight, but reforms are the most effective and most sustainable economic stimulus in the long run.

However, in order to join the EU, the countries were to make further efforts to meet the necessary requirements and conditions by implementing the required reforms based on EU standards, principles and values.

In order to give support to the region, the EU was to keep the enlargement process high on the agenda. As a way of helping, it needs to promote regional cooperation and its mechanisms as well as to strengthen the process of integration. The countries themselves should promote good neighbourly relations through projects of common interest and by resolving bilateral issues in the tolerant manner of ‘the European spirit’.

Charge of the Light Brigade - Photo by WikiCommons

Like most world trouble spots there is a massive Irish connection. 160 years ago in 1854 in the Crimea it was Britain, France and Turkey against the Russians with Britain going to war to protect its Indian trade routes from Russian interference.

The history of statehood on the territory of Ukraine begins with two archetypically European encounters. Medieval statehood on the territory of today’s Ukraine, like that of France and England, includes an encounter with Vikings. The men from the north sought to establish a trade route between the Baltic and Black Seas, and used Kiev, on the Dnieper River, as a trading post.

At this point the history of Rus fragments into parts. Most of the lands of Rus were gathered in by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, an enormous warrior state with a capital in Vilnius. After the grand dukes of Lithuania became, by personal union, the kings of Poland, most of the lands of Ukraine were part of the largest European state.

The constitutional reforms of 1569 established this state as a republic known as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. In this “republic of two nations,” the lands of Ukraine were part of the Polish crown, and the lands of Belarus part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In this way a new division was created within the old lands of Rus.

As in the rest of eastern Europe, the Great War brought the end of traditional empire and attempts to establish a national state following the Wilsonian logic of self-determination. But in Ukraine the attempts were multiple, one on the Habsburg lands and one on the lands of the Russian Empire. The first was defeated by Poles, who succeeded in attaching eastern Galicia to their own new state.

The second had to contend with both the Red Army and its White opponents, who even as they fought against each other agreed that Ukraine would be part of a larger political unit. Although the Ukrainian national movement was comparable to those of other east European territories, and although people fought and died in larger numbers for Ukraine than for most of the other emergent nation-states after 1918, the outcome was complete failure.

After an enormously complicated series of events, in which Kiev was occupied a dozen times, the Red Army was victorious, and a Soviet Ukraine was established as part of the new Soviet Union in 1922.

Crimea is a different place, however. It was, after all, a part of Russia for hundreds of years, only joining Ukraine in 1954. More than 50 percent of its inhabitants spoke Russian, and it had a majority of almost 60 percent ethnic Russians. The region had a long-standing, if not necessarily very effective, pro-Russian independence movement long before Ukraine’s current political crisis exploded.

Crimea: A peninsula jutting into the northern tip of the Black Sea. This strategically-located region has been fought over many times over the course of its complicated history. Russia fought 1853 an alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, Britain and Sardinia over disputes involving the Middle East and religion.

The Ottoman Empire’s loss of Crimea to the Russian Empire in 1783 was a turning point in both civilizations’ histories. For the Ottomans, it was the first permanent loss of a major Muslim territory to a Christian power, in this case Catherine the Great’s Russia, which, like President Vladimir Putin’s Russia, had intervened in a Crimean civil war and eventually annexed the peninsula.

For the Russians, it was the beginning of their country’s transformation into a global power; through the Black Sea, Russia could sail on the West. From 1783 onward, Moscow used its sea presence to bedevil the Ottomans, winning more territory through considerable bloodshed and destruction.

Moscow rapidly expanded its naval operations from the Black Sea into the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. As it did, European powers rushed to head off Russia at the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits. The competition led to another war in Crimea, the Crimean War of 1853-56. This one was the result of British and French unwillingness to let Russia fully dominate the Black Sea at the expense of the Ottoman Empire, which also wanted influence in the area.

Because states are always looking to the future to anticipate possible problems, Britain and France fought the Russian Empire in Crimea in the middle of nineteenth century less because they saw an immediate challenge to their position than because they reasoned that, if unchecked, Russian power might someday be a threat to them.

Like most world trouble spots there is a massive Irish connection. 160 years ago in 1854 in the Crimea it was Britain, France and Turkey against the Russians with Britain going to war to protect its Indian trade routes from Russian interference. The war was less a local skirmish than a preview of the world wars to come.

It’s widely considered the beginning of modern warfare. Like most world trouble spots there is a massive Irish connection.

A three-year war that started in 1853 and ended up with Russia keeping Crimea even though it lost the war. Long a part of Russia, it was given to Ukraine in 1954 and, despite an ethnic Russian majority, a post-Soviet independence movement and a good dose of autonomy, it is still technically Ukrainian.

Throughout the centuries, the history of Ukraine has revealed the turning points in the history of Europe. This seems still to be true today. Of course, which way things will turn still depends, at least for the next six weeks, on the Europeans.

Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is on his way to the White House for a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, after telling parliament that he wanted the U.S. and U.K.- as guarantors of a 1994 treaty which saw Ukraine give up its Soviet nuclear weapons – to intervene both diplomatically and militarily. Ukraine has no future without Europe.

Under the political agreement, the signatories offered Ukraine “security assurances” in exchange for its adhesion to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum bundled together a set of assurances that Ukraine already held from the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, United Nations Charter and Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Ukrainian government nevertheless found it politically valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document.

Following the Crimean crisis, the U.S., Canada and the U.K all separately stated that Russian involvement is in breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, and in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

After hours of “candid and frank” discussions, Russia made it clear that it would not take any decisions on Crimea until after Sunday’s referendum, while the U.S. reiterated it viewed this event as illegitimate, says U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on 14th march.

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