Crimea: Following yesterday's referendum in which Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, the regional parliament declared Crimea independent, as the Republic of Crimea. Crimean authorities said 83 percent of registered voters participated and more than 97 percent voted for union with Russia. Also on 17 March, Crimea sent a delegation to Moscow to present a formal request for union.
Russian President Putin signed an executive order that Russia recognizes Crimea's independence. "According to the will of the peoples of the Crimea in the all-Crimean referendum held on March 16, 2014, I order recognition of the Republic of Crimea, in which the city of Sevastopol has a special status, as a sovereign and independent state." The order comes into force immediately.
On 18 March President Putin is scheduled to address both houses of the Russian parliament regarding Crimea's request to become part of Russia.
Gorbachev. Russian former President and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev said, "Earlier, Crimea was merged with Ukraine under Soviet laws, to be more exact by the Communist party's laws, without asking the people, and now the people have decided to correct that mistake. This should be welcomed instead of declaring sanctions," he told Interfax on Monday.
China: The Foreign Ministry published the following exchange from the daily press conference on 17 March.
Q: If Crimea becomes part of Russia, will the Chinese side recognize the outcome?
A: The Chinese side always respects the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of all countries. A political solution to the Crimea issue should be found within a legal and orderly framework. All sides should exercise restraint and avoid taking actions that could intensify the conflict. The international community should play a constructive role in lowering the current tensions.
Comment: The Chinese are squarely on the fence on this issue. They will not allow secession or alienation of any Chinese claimed lands. On the other hand, they reserve the right to intervene in the affairs of their neighbors, such as Vietnam and North Korea, to protect Chinese interests.