“I do not think that there will be isolation. The world is very connected nowadays,” he said.
The United States and the European Union have accused Russia of taking control of the peninsula with its own troops and auxiliary pro-Russian forces. Thousands of troops have flooded the region, taking over military bases (while surrounding others), the airports and other strategic locations. Though they wear no insignia, it is evident that they are Russian.
Russia has also sent thousands more troops to its border with Ukraine and launched military drills.
There are also what appear to be freelance protesters from Russia – including some who have been described as intimidating thugs – who have swarmed into Crimea and Eastern Ukraine to protest loudly in favor of joining Russia and to menace those who oppose.
Russia also has launched a massive propaganda campaign. Russian media, controlled by the Kremlin, has flooded the airwaves with misleading reports of “fascists” taking over Ukraine and threats to ethnic Russians. Billboards erected ahead of the referendum offer the choice between Russia’s flag and a Nazi flag.
The region is of strategic importance as the home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Most of the population is ethnic Russian.