The best way to get Crimea back is for Ukraine to become a prosperous democracy—with the West’s help
IT’S not the voting that matters, Joseph Stalin once observed, but the counting. At the illegitimate referendum to be held in Crimea on March 16th, the Kalashnikov-wielding men in balaclavas and the absurdly skewed ballot paper may also play a role. Like Vladimir Putin’s surreal claim that the elite troops who have overrun the peninsula are merely local volunteers, the referendum would be laughable, were it not—like Mr Putin’s invasion—dreadfully real.
The basic result of this sham plebiscite is certain: a rigged decision to secede from Ukraine (see article). The question for the West, and for the authorities in Kiev, is how to respond. The answer has two distinct parts. The West must be vigorous in its denunciations of what is, in effect, a seizure of sovereign Ukrainian territory—much more so than it has been so far. But the Ukrainians themselves should be patient.
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