[Ed. – Yee-ha.]
In a call with Mustafa Dzhemilev, the former head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tarter people, Putin reportedly dismissed his concern that a referendum scheduled to be held this weekend in Crimea, which would decide whether the territory should be annexed to Russia, would violate the terms of a 1994 treaty with Western nations guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty.
According to Dzhemilev, Putin also said that it was debatable as to whether Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union, acquired in 1991, was even legal.
The Soviet Union effectively dissolved on December 8, 1991, when the presidents of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia met in secret and formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). That agreement was ratified by the Ukrainian parliament 4 days later. Within weeks, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as the president of the USSR and the Soviet flag was be lowered over the Kremlin for the last time.
This report comes as President Barack Obama meets with Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Washington. The move is likely to ratchet up tensions between Moscow and the West as the Kremlin presently regards Yatsenyuk’s government as illegitimate.