CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Chappaqua residents hope there can be a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Crimea, whose majority Russian population will vote on a referendum Sunday on whether or not to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
Crimea is a parliamentary republic within Ukraine located on a peninsula on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Viktor Yanukovych was recently ousted as Ukraine’s president for, in part, shifting allegiances from the European Union to Russia, which refuses to recognize the interim government.
However, Crimea’s local officials have declared their allegiance to Russia, which is believed to have moved unmarked troops into the region and set up blockades to the rest of Ukraine.
While Russia will respect the results of the vote, the U.S., Europe and the Ukrainian governments have called the vote illegitimate.
“I think there has to be a diplomatic situation worked out through the (United Nations),” Noah Sorkin, of Chappaqua, said.
Nineteen-year-olds Like Sorkin and Ben Ehrlick of Chappaqua said if the vote is valid and shows a majority in Crimea want to secede to Russia, than the international community should respect that. He said Russia would be regaining a territory it held before the Soviet Union collapsed.
However, Ehrlick’s mother, C.J., said Russian Prime Minister Vladamir Putin is a “madman.” She said she agrees with Chappaqua-resident Hillary Clinton’s recent comments comparing Putin’s tactics in Crimea to those used by Adolf Hitler prior to World War 2. Both leaders claimed to be protecting their ethnic nationals in nearby nations before attacking those nations.
“I’m worried about this Pan Russian, Chinese takeover,” she said Friday while walking through downtown Chappaqua with her son. “I don’t know how far he can go.”
The younger Ehrlick said he doesn’t think Putin is such a bad guy, but said he recognizes the historical context and the potential for the region to destabilize.
Louis Gelbman said he could see why Crimea would want to be a part of Russia and that Ukraine and the West couldn’t do much to stop it. However, the Ukrainian government has said it would cut off electricity and water supplies to Crimea if it decides to secede.
“Of course it’s worrisome. Russia is sticking their finer in the U.S.’s eye,” Edward Manley, of Chappaqua, said. “I think Russia doesn’t quite understand the consequences of sanctions.”
While he hopes there will be a diplomatic solution, he said the fallout could be trouble if Crimea votes to secede.
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