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March 17, 2014

Crimeans vote to join Russia

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Crimeans have overwhelmingly voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The vote came almost exactly two weeks after thousands of Russian troops occupied the region which has been part of Ukraine for 60 years, but is also home to the Russian Black Sea fleet.

Russian leaders said their advance into Crimea was an attempt to protect ethnic Russians on the peninsula, who make up a majority of the population. The only district that did not vote to rejoin Russia has a heavily Muslim Tatar population, who support the current Ukrainian government.

Despite the vote, many in the international community, including President Obama, say they will not accept the referendum vote as legitimate.

However, many Crimeans see alignment with Russia as practical rather than ideological.

“They talked about having more jobs and investment if they joined Russia, and they also talked about feeling much more at home with Russia,” reports NewsHour senior foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner.

“This is an area that for 300 years was part of Russia and then the Soviet Union. And they all, almost all, complained about being forced to fill out forms in Ukrainian.”

Next, the Russian Duma — similar to the U.S. Congress — will vote on whether to allow Crimea to join their country. It is unclear at the moment how quickly things may change in Crimea, but the largest commercial bank in Crimea has already shuttered its doors in order to convert from Ukrainian currency to Russian Rubles.


Warm up questions
  1. Where is Crimea?
  2. Where is Russia?
  3. What do you know about Russia and the former Soviet Union?
Discussion questions and writing prompts
  1. How did the people in Crimea vote?
  2. Which groups boycotted the vote? Do you think that was a good strategy? Why or why not?
  3. What do you think will happen next?
  4. Does Russia have the legal right to annex Crimea?
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