UPDATE (1:40 p.m.): A Ukrainian soldier died and another was injured Tuesday at a besieged Ukrainian military base in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, Reuters reported. Ukrainian officials told Reuters the base came under attack by “unknown forces, fully equipped and their faces covered.”
Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, condemned the incident as a “war crime,” accusing Russia of entering a military phase in the conflict.
OUR EARLIER REPORT: President Vladimir Putin added Crimea to the map of Russia on Tuesday, saying the move corrected past injustice and protected Russia from Western encroachment.
In 40-minute speech televised live from the Kremlin, Putin said “in people’s hearts and minds, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia.” Crimean and Russian politicians signed a treaty to make the peninsula a subject of Russia as the Russian anthem blared.
European powers condemned the move and severed some of their own individual ties to Russia outside of European Union relations. France is already referring to the Group of Eight, or G-8, alliance of world powers as the G-7. The United States and the European Union announced Monday asset freezes and visa bans against a small group Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. The CEO of the Russian oil company Rosneft, Igor Sechin, told Russian news agencies Tuesday that sanctions are “evidence of powerlessness.”
Meeting with anxious European leaders in neighboring Poland on Tuesday, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said the world sees through Russia’s actions. He said virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea on Sunday that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.
Moving forward, world alliances must balance the interests of ethnic minorities in Ukraine, nations that depend on Russian energy, and Ukrainian and Russian border countries concerned that Putin may expand his power grabs.
A Kremlin-linked TV host ominously reminded viewers of his weekly news program Sunday that Russia is the only country that is capable of reducing the U.S. to “radioactive ashes.” The Russian parliament has pledged to ratify Tuesday’s treaty in the coming days.