by Benson Agoha
As European leaders gathered in Brussels yesterday for an urgent discussion to find an acceptable peaceful solution the Ukraine crisis, the Crimean parliament reportedly voted to join Russia.
But national interests are a factor for consideration, especially as countries with strong and lurative trade relations with Russia prefer deplomatic appraoch that will not involve huge econmic sanctions.
This afternoon, Aljazeera reports that Crimea has voted to join Russia and quoted Crimea's Deputy PM as saying the decree takes immediate effect and that Ukraine troops, which are already surrounded by self defence soldiers should accept it or leave.
According to media reports the parliament on Thursday unanimously adopted a motion for the strategic peninsula to join the Russian Federation and decree was expected to take effect immediately.
Russian soldiers were regarded by the Crimean parliament as the only legitimate forces in Crimea. The parliament on Thursday unanimously adopted a motion for the strategic peninsula to join the Russian Federation.
Rustam Temurgaliyev, Crimea's deputy prime minister, pointedly told the media: "The Ukrainian armed forces have to choose: lay down their weapons, ... accept Russian citizenship and join the Russian military," adding that if they do not agree, Crimea was prepared to offer them safe passage ... to their Ukrainian homeland.
But Ukraine soldiers in Crimea remained adamant and even hoisted the Ukrainian flag on their warship.
As the standoff continued, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's prime minister, said the Crimean vote was "illegitimate". Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine's acting president, called it a "vote dictated by fear by MPs working under pressure of "the barrel of a gun."
A referendum earlier scheduled for March 30, 2014 for Crimeans to decide which side to align with were reportedly also being brought forward to March 16, and will carry a very important question on the ballot paper: Should Crimea be part of Russia?
About 11,000 pro-Russian and self-defence "troops are in control of the peninsula and have blocked all Ukrainian military bases that have not yet surrendered, according to the regional leader, Sergei Aksyonov."
A great number of the self-defence forces are gathering information to make sure that no Ukrainian troops swoop in on them without their knowledge.
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