Ron Paul: Crimea Has Right to Join Russia, Obama's Sanctions 'Criminal'
Former congressman says the U.S. should embrace self-determination.
Local residents carry giant Russian flags and shout slogans in front of Crimea's parliament on Saturday in Simferopol, Ukraine.
Former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, believes Crimeans have a right to transfer sovereignty over their peninsula to Russia and says sanctions imposed Thursday by President Barack Obama against Ukrainian and Russian officials are “criminal.”
Crimea’s regional parliament voted Thursday to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Residents of the Black Sea region, where ethnic Russians form a majority of the population, will either ratify or reject the proposal March 16.
“I’d like to see the people make the decision rather than outside parties,” Paul tells U.S. News. “It’s pure hypocrisy on our part to think we have the moral high ground. The only question that remains is: Will there be an honest election? And I don’t see any reason there can’t be an honest election.”
Paul is often outspoken on U.S. foreign policy and his views clash with those of Obama administration officials and members of Congress who have condemned Russia for deploying troops in Crimea, purportedly to ensure the safety of local residents, after the overthrow of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president.
Obama announced Thursday he opposes the Crimea referendum and said he issued an executive order applying sanctions against unnamed Russian and Ukrainian officials for “violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The sanctions are believed to include the freezing of assets inside the U.S.
“The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law,” Obama said.
In addition to sanctions, Secretary of State John Kerry promised $1 billion in financial aid to Ukraine’s new government during a Tuesday trip to Kiev and accused Russia of invading the country.
The policies are a target-rich heap for Paul’s scorn.
By opposing the Crimea referendum, Paul says, Obama administration officials are being hypocritical and show they are only selectively interested in self-determination. The libertarian leader, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008 and 2012, points to the Obama administration’s embrace of anti-government revolts in Egypt and Syria as examples of paying lip service to self-determination when it suits U.S. interests.
“We say, ‘We want you to be good democrats and have elections,’ but if they don’t elect the right people then we complain about it and throw them out, like we did in Egypt,” Paul says. “They’re doing exactly what they should do [in Crimea]. They should have an election.”
Paul would not support the U.S. sending election monitors: “We would send CIA agents over there, that’s what we’d do,” he says. But he would be in favor of credible nongovernmental observers watching the vote.
Obama’s sanctions against Ukrainian and Russian officials, Paul alleges, are acts of theft.
“That’s just people looking to start a war,” Paul says. “This is criminal, it’s stealing and will just aggravate things and escalate things. Sanctions are acts of war … to freeze assets if you’re at war with Hitler and there’s a declared war, that’s a little different, but to do this so easily and casually as we do, that’s just looking for a fight.”
Paul also opposes the new financial aid to Ukraine.
“One irony I think could happen is we will send some money to the new government, then they have some cash to pay for their gas and send the money to Russia,“ he says.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., does not seem to share his father's position on Crimea.
In a Feb. 28 statement, Sen. Paul – who is considering a 2016 presidential bid – said: "The United States should make it abundantly clear to Russia that we expect them to honor the December 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the U.S., Russia, and the United Kingdom reaffirmed their commitment 'to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.'"
Consistently on Russia Today, consistently quoted by Russia Today, his former campaign staffers went on to work at Russia Today. Now he wants you to believe Putin is a saint.