WH adviser: Successful Crimea secession vote won't be recognized

March 9, 2014 at 1:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 9 (UPI) -- A White House adviser said Crimea's secession vote won't be recognized Sunday while a congressman predicted Russia's annexation bid would backfire.

"If there is an annexation of Crimea, if there's a referendum that moves Crimea from Ukraine to Russia, we won't recognize it nor will most of the world," Tony Blinken, deputy national security adviser, said on CNN's "State of the Union." "[The] pressure that we already exerted in coordination with our partners and allies will go up."

Blinken said a "very flexible and very tough mechanism" was in place to increase pressure on Russia, depending on the situation. After the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February, unidentified troops widely reported as from Russia were deployed to the Ukraine's autonomous, pro-Russia Crimea, which will have a secession vote March 16.

"And so, if Russia makes the wrong choice going forward, we have the ability to exert significant pressure on Russia as do our partners," he said. "But again, the hope is that Russia won't make that choice."

Blinken said Obama has been in contact with European leaders, "so, I think you'd see if there are further steps in the direction of annexing Crimea a very strong coordinated international response."

On "Fox News Sunday," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, said if Russia acts like a "rogue nation," it will be isolated from the West.

"If they continue to occupy Crimea, if they annex Crimea, Ukraine almost certainly will come completely within the western orbit," Paul said. "So, it will backfire on them because you'll be taking Russian-speaking voters that have been voting for Russian-speaking presidents of Ukraine. You'll be taking them out of the population."

If Russia occupies Ukraine, "it will be chaos for him and for the world," Paul said. "If he creates a Syria out of Ukraine, what's going to happen is 80 percent of his oil and gas is going through Ukraine. It will be a disaster for him. And so, he needs to be fully aware of that."

If he could, Paul said, he would "immediately get every obstacle out of the way for our export of oil and gas, and I would begin drilling in every possible conceivable place within our territories in order to have production that we could supply Europe with if it's interrupted from Ukraine."

Also on "Fox News Sunday," former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "There really aren't any direct military options that we have."

He said he didn't think some of the sanctions either discussed or imposed "are going to be any deterrent for Putin.

Gates said Russia's actions in Crimea is part of a long-term strategy by Putin "to re-create a Russian sphere of influence and a Russian bloc where Russia has economic, political and security relationships with these countries that make them all lean toward or do the bidding of Moscow."

"I think our greatest response is to have our own strategy for countering this long-term strategy of Putin's to gather the states back under Moscow's control," he said.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., speaking on ABC's "This Week," said instability in the Crimea region would create economic instability that would "certainly" impact Europe.

"If it impacts Europe's economy, it's going to impact the United States economy," Rogers said.

"We're no longer, you know, completely isolated by the two oceans around the United States. We're interconnected economically," Rogers said. "And so we do need to worry about the stability of a place like the Ukraine and we need to worry about the continued advancement, certainly, for reasons of influence or, in this case, taking land, by the -- by Putin and Russia."

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