– Russia slams West accusations over Crimea referendum (PressTV, March 15, 2014):
Russia has slammed Western accusations that the upcoming referendum expected to be held in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea is illegal.
Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the accusations during a telephone conversation with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The Russian president “underscored that the decision to conduct (the referendum) fully corresponds to the norms of international law and the UN Charter,” the Kremlin announced on Friday.
Following his phone conversation with Putin, Ban told reporters that the two sides “discussed the need to work towards a durable and fair political solution” in Ukraine.
“The situation and emotions have been hardened over the forthcoming referendum in Crimea,” Ban stated.
“What I am concerned (about) is that there should be no such hasty measures and decisions which may impact the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine. That has been my consistent message in accordance with the [UN] Charter provisions,” the UN chief said.
On Friday, Russia called on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to send observers to monitor the upcoming secession referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea region, adding that the OSCE mission should be approved by the regional leaders on the strategic Black Sea peninsula.
Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said on Thursday that more than 80 percent of people in Crimea support seceding from Ukraine and becoming part of the Russian Federation.
Russia has already come out in support of the vote, saying the people of Crimea themselves should decide their own future.
However, the self-declared pro-Western government in Kiev has warned that they would not give up Crimea under any circumstances, adding that the region will remain part of the Ukrainian territory.
Crimea has become the flashpoint for tensions since former Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was ousted last month following three months of street protests in Kiev and other cities.
Ukraine has been gripped by a political crisis since November 2013, when Yanukovych refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.