Early on Feb. 27, armed gunmen took over two governmental buildings and hoisted a Russian flag on top of the buildings. The autonomous republic’s parliament met in an emergency session to approve a May 25 referendum to give the peninsula – a majority of whose residents are ethnic Russians – a chance for greater autonomy from Ukraine’s central government.

The separatism card must be stopped. We find it hard to believe that a majority of Crimean residents want to create their own nation or join Russia.

Putin continues to play a destructive role in all that’s happening, first by conducting military exercises on Ukraine’s borders and then by remaining silent on Feb. 27 during the violent takeovers amid reports that he is harboring the fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovych in his midst. During the entire EuroMaidan Revolution, his propaganda machine was condescending and dismissive.

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