Crimeans took to the polls on Sunday for a referendum on breaking away from Ukraine to join Russia that has precipitated a Cold War-style security crisis on Europe's eastern frontier.
Cossacks and self-defence militias were seen patrolling some polling stations and Russian flags were being flown everywhere from city buses to convoys of bikers roaming the streets.
Ukraine's new government and most of the international community except Russia have said they will not recognise a result expected to be overwhelmingly in favour of immediate secession.
"This is a historic moment, everyone will live happily," Sergiy Aksyonov, the local pro-Moscow prime minister, told reporters after casting his ballot in the regional capital Simferopol.
"We will celebrate this evening," Aksyonov said, after a man waving a blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flag and demanding it be put up inside the polling station was pushed away by security guards.
The Black Sea peninsula is inhabited mostly by ethnic Russians and has been seized by Russian forces over the past month after Ukraine's uprising, plunging US-Russia ties to their lowest point since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council’s resolution declaring the upcoming referendum on the future status of autonomous republic of Crimea invalid and urging all states not to recognize its results.
China abstained as 13 council members supported the resolution and Russia voted against.
The draft resolution noted that the Ukrainian government in Kiev has not authorized the referendum and said that it cannot be valid.
“This referendum can have no validity, and cannot form the basis for any alteration of the status of Crimea; and calls upon all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of Crimea on the basis of this referendum and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status,” the documents reads.
Moscow has a veto right as one of five permanent members of the Security Council.
It was “no secret that Russia would vote against the US draft resolution,” Russia’s envoy at the UN Vitaly Churkin said ahead of the voting. He added that Moscow would respect the choice of Crimeans.
“We cannot accept its basic assumption: to declare illegal the planned March 16 referendum where there residents of the Republic of Crimea should decide on their future,” Churkin said, explaining Moscow’s decision to veto the proposed document.
The UN resolution is focused on alleged illegitimacy of the upcoming referendum in Crimea, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued after the vote. Creating an atmosphere of distrust and falsehood appears to be the main goal of the authors, the ministry added.
According to Russian diplomats, the US proposal regarding a UN resolution on the situation in Ukraine was ungrounded. It can only be explained by Americans’ “overwhelming desire” to politicize already complicated situation and continue aggravating international hysteria around the former Soviet republic for the benefit of the US geopolitical interests.
“The very initiative had no grounds from the beginning since events in Ukraine do not pose any threat to international peace and security – that the Security Council deals with in accordance with the UN Charter,” the statement posted on the ministry’s website reads.
We look at modern Persia, which is today The Islamic Republic of Iran, and we see that it is the puppet-master behind most of the world’s terrorism. It is about time we unmask the true evil that lurks behind the relatively attractive face of its president, Hassan Rouhani.
The Iranian mullahs are nothing if not clever, and they realized that the straight-talking former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was isolating their country, and his forthright and candid talk of “Wiping Israel off the map” only served to strangle their economy with crippling sanctions.
So the mullahs allowed a relatively unknown, benign face, Hassan Rouhani, to run in their elections last summer. Immediately after he won the election, papers such as the Washington Post and the New YorkTimes proclaimed him as a “moderate” and a “reformer”. In the fall, he embarked on a charm offensive and gave an eloquent speech where he sounded more like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King than the person who gave the order to attack the AMIA, the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on July 18, 1994, killing 85 people and injuring hundreds.
Iran is working on a missile program that can reach the Eastern Seaboard of the Continental United States by the middle of 2015. Yet, on Wednesday in Tehran, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Majid Takht Ravanchi said, “Issues related to our missile program and defensive capabilities lie outside the negotiations and we may never accept to discuss this issue.”
Iran is a threat to the United States, not just her allies abroad.
Many in the international community have been willfully taken in by the duplicitous strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a merciless, brutal regime has executed close to 95 people in the last few months, and over 500 in this past year for the “crimes” of being a member of a religious minority, for being against the regime, or of being accused of homosexuality. In June of 2009, millions of beautiful, freedom-loving dissidents took to the streets, and were bludgeoned to death or mysteriously disappeared into the notorious Evin Prison, never to be heard from again.
By framing the conversation as involving Israel alone, which the Iranian regime regards as only “the Minor Satan”, focus has been taken off of the very real threat that Iran poses to the United States, which they regard as “the Gre
As the late Soviet dissident Andre Sakharov once said, “If you want to understand what a nation’s foreign policy will look like, look at the way, they treat their dissident population.”The threat posed by a nuclear Iran is real and it is imminent, even to us, here in the United States. This holiday of Purim, it about time we remove their masks.
Iran: 'Palestinian Resistance's' Missile Power Now 1,000 Times Stronger
Iran's defense minister on Saturday commended Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip for firing dozens of rocketsinto southern Israel last week, stating that "the operational power of the Resistance against the Zionist regime is a thousand times more than what it was before."
Iran's Fars News Agency quoted Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan on Saturday as saying “the resistance forces have fired over 150 missiles against the occupied territories in the last 4 days, after the assassination of a number of resistance commanders by the Zionist regime in Gaza and the West Bank.” He claimed that the Gaza terror organizations had not yet displayed their actual missile capability.
Fars also quoted Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ramadan Abdullah Mohammad Shalah as saying, "Our weapons of resistance…are not for rent. Our weapons are for the sake of Palestine and we shall not lay them down until we achieve the goal of liberating Palestine.”
Israeli communities near southern and northern Gaza came under heavy rocket attack in the last week, beginning on Wednesday. The IDF said at least 60 rockets had been fired in the largest attack since 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense.
In response The air force struck 29 targets across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, largely Islamic Jihad assets. Tanks also hit two terrorist targets inside Gaza.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said about the flair up of aggressions, “We will not allow Islamic Jihad or any other element in the Strip to disrupt life in the South,” he said. “It won’t be quiet in Gaza either, in a way that will cause Islamic Jihad terrorists to regret the attacks they carried out.