VLADIVOSTOK (Sputnik) — Crimea could have found itself in a situation that is currently unfolding in southeastern Ukraine, where Kiev forces have been fighting independence supporters for almost a year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a documentary on Crimea's reunification with Russia.
- I respect the right of Crimeans to self-determination. It helped to avoid humanitarian catastrophe that is currently unfolding in southeastern Ukraine.70.5% (1912)
- I condemn this referendum, as it has destabilized the entire region and reduced the international credibility of Russia.10.0% (272)
- I think in geopolitical terms, it has helped strengthen Russia's security and stabilize the situation in the region.19.5% (530)
On March 16 2014, Crimea voted in a referendum to join Russia, which led a number of Western nations to hand down a series of sanctions targeting first certain individuals and, subsequently, whole sectors of Russia's economy.
Meanwhile, following the appointment of new pro-Western and increasingly nationalist leadership in Kiev as result of a coup in February 2014, Ukrainian government launched a military operation against southeast Ukraine's independence supporters that had not recognized its legitimacy on April 15.