Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state and formally asked to become part of Russia, following its residents’ overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine.
According to Crimean officials, 97% of Crimea voted to join Russia. While 97% isn’t as high as Kim Jong Un’s 100% of the votes, it’s still pretty high. Despite the fact that Russian military officials heavily guarded the voting process and residents were only given two options on the ballots (join Russia or seek greater autonomy within Ukraine), it seems pretty safe to say that the majority of Crimea is pro-Putin. It’s also pretty safe to say that the West only supports democracy when people vote the way they want.
The U.S. and European Union do not consider the vote legitimate, angrily claiming it violates Ukraine’s constitution and took place under pressure from the Russian military. As a result, the western powers have announced travel bans and asset freezes against a number of officials from Russia and Ukraine who are seen as having played a key role in the referendum.
But amid all the Western hatred against Russia, one U.S. politician is breaking away from the pack and siding with Putin: Ron Paul. The former congressman said on Saturday that Crimea should be able to break away and join Russia, arguing that this “is our how our country was started. It was the right of self-determination, and voting, and asking and even fighting for it, and seceding.” Paul went on to say the U.S. had engineered a coup in Kiev against the Yanukovych government and U.S. sanctions against Moscow are an “act of war.”
Meanwhile, his son Rand Paul, who’s got a 2016 White House bid to worry about, has called for stiff penalties against Russia and declared: “If I were president, I wouldn’t let Vladimir Putin get away with it!”
But Putin has said he will respect the will of the people in Crimea.
“The results of the referendum in Crimea clearly showed that residents of Crimea see their future only as part of Russia,” the deputy speaker of the State Duma, Sergei Neverov said.
The parliament in Moscow intends to pass legislation allowing Crimea to join Russia “in the very near future”, sanctions or no sanctions, Rand Paul or Ron Paul.