The U.S. Navy has confirmed that a guided missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, is heading to the Black Sea. The U.S. claims this destroyer is not moving into the Black Sea because of the situation in Ukraine. Rather, it is part of a routine exercise that has been planned for months.
In a statement the Navy says, “While in the Black Sea, the ship will conduct a port visit and routine, previously planned exercises with allies and partners in the region,”
Meanwhile, only weeks after protests in Kiev led to the ousting of Ukraine’s President, the Crimean parliament Thursday voted overwhelmingly “to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation”.
That vote by the Crimean Parliament will go to voters as a referendum on March 16. The vice premier of Crimea, said that if the referendum were approved, all state property would be “nationalized”, the Russian ruble adopted and Ukrainian troops treated as occupiers and forced to surrender or leave.
The response to that vote has varied from shock in the western part of Ukraine to outright rejection by the United States and the EU which called the vote “illegitimate” and a “violation of Ukraine’s Constitution”. Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated after the vote, “Crimea was, is and will be an integral part of Ukraine.”
President Obama has also come out against that vote telling reporters, “Any discussion about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.”
Of course, when President Obama says the “legitimate government” of Ukraine must be involved in any discussion of Crimea joining Russia it is an interesting choice of words. Russia’s President Putin says that the government that is now in control of Ukraine is not legitimate, having ousted the democratically elected President of the nation.